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At least 58 people drown near Mauritania after boat capsizes en route to Spain

Eighty-three migrants survived by swimming to shore, but another 40 remain missing and are feared dead

patera mauritania
A migrant woman with her baby after landing in Fuerteventura in November. EFE

At least 58 migrants drowned on Wednesday after their boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean, near Nouadhibou in Mauritania, police sources from Nouadhibou told Spanish news agency EFE. The news was was confirmed in a press release from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). At least one boy and three women were killed. The other 83 migrants on board the boat managed to swim to the coast of Mauritania, where they alerted authorities to the shipwreck. Ten of the survivors are in a serious condition, according to the Mauritanian Interior Ministry.

The boat was carrying between 150 and 180 migrants from several different countries

The boat left the coast of Gambia last Thursday and was traveling toward Spain’s Canary Islands. It was carrying between 150 and 180 migrants from different countries. Most of them were reportedly from Gambia and Senegal, and aged between 20 and 30.

The boat, which appeared to have been sailing close to the coast, hit a reef and capsized. Once the vessel had overturned, only those who knew how to swim were able to reach the shore.

The survivors were found by Mauritanian authorities and taken to Nouadhibou, where they were given food, clothes and blankets.

Authorities are now looking for the 40 or so migrants who remain missing. According to sources, there is little hope that new survivors will be found. The search will continue in the hope of finding bodies, which are sometimes washed up on shore by the waves.

Last Wednesday, four migrants died after attempting a sea crossing to Spain from Melilla, a Spanish exclave city located on the northern coast of Africa.

English version by Melissa Kitson.

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