No more survivors found after shipwreck off Senegal

Aircraft and navy vessels were still searching on Monday for about 100 people who went missing at sea after their boat capsized off northern Senegal, but a naval spokesperson said nobody else had been found.

Senegalese fishermen on Saturday rescued 25 of the would-be migrants to Europe, who had been heading for the Canary Islands but turned back because of stormy seas off Morocco, with 127 people, all men, believed to have been on board the open boat.

“Several boats of the national navy, supported by a Spanish reconnaissance plane of Frontex and an air force plane, are there taking part in the search,” Lieutenant Mouhamadou Moustapha Sylla of the Senegalese coordination team with Frontex said.

“I have been told of no discoveries for the moment,” Sylla said.

Frontex, the European Union’s border security agency, works with Senegal to try to stem the tide of West African clandestine immigrants hoping to reach Europe, particularly via Spain’s Canary Islands in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco.

Survivors of the shipwreck were still under observation on Monday in a hospital in Saint-Louis, where the head of the emergency department, Demba Dieng, said on Sunday that they were dehydrated, tired and in need of psychological care after their ordeal.

The survivors have recounted a grim 16-day voyage that began in southern Senegal and ended in disappointment near the Mauritanian border, after high seas and bad weather along the Moroccan coast forced them to turn back.

They remembered being rescued by fishermen who, early on Saturday, got them to a beach near Saint-Louis, a northern Senegalese coastal town near the border with Mauritania, but gave different accounts of how long they had been in the water.

One, Ibrahima Barry, told a journalist at the hospital that before their open boat capsized, they were robbed by fishermen “on the high seas. They took everything we had in the pirogue apart from our sugar.”

Scores of African immigrants have perished at sea this year trying reach Europe on rickety boats.

Some have turned back—as was apparently the case of 29 cold and dehydrated Africans who washed up on Dakar’s shores earlier last week. Police estimated their boat had been carrying about 100 people when it set sail.—AFP

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