Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Rescuers fear at least 100 suspected African migrants have drowned after their boat capsized off Senegal

BBC News:

The boat set out in early December with as many as 124 people on board, thought to be headed for the Canary Island, but it ran aground in bad weather.

Fishermen rescued 24 people from the boat on Saturday off the northern coast of Senegal.

At least half of the almost 30,000 illegal arrivals in Spain's Canary Islands in 2006 have been Senegalese.

Hundreds of people have already died at sea this year as they try to make the perilous crossing from Senegal or Mauritania to the Canaries in overcrowded fishing boats.

Medical officials say the 24 survivors under observation in a hospital in St-Louis in northern Senegal, are dehydrated and malnourished after approximately two weeks at sea.

Awa Sow, whose son Souleymane was rescued, was outside the hospital where other relatives have gathered.

"If he took all these risks, it's because he saw the situation his family was in," she told Associated Press news agency.

Many West African job seekers hope to use the Canaries as a jumping off point to illegally enter mainland Europe.

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