Up to 57 people died after a ship from Gambia carrying 150 migrants sank off Mauritania, the UN migration agency said.
The perilous sea passage from West Africa to Europe was a major route for migrants seeking jobs and prosperity. This incident is one of the worst since attempts became scarcer when Spain stepped up patrols in the mid-2000s.
“Mauritanian authorities say up to 57 people are dead after a vessel carrying migrants sank off its coast today,” the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Twitter.
“Survivors told IOM the vessel left The Gambia last Wednesday with at least 150 people aboard.”
Mauritanian authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
Although home to some of the continent’s fastest-growing economies, West Africa struggles to generate sufficient jobs for its mushrooming young population. As a result, migrants continue to tackle treacherous routes to Europe.