(Bloomberg) -- More than 60 migrants who were trying to leave Senegal on a pirogue to the Canary Islands are feared to have drowned, authorities and the United Nations said.
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A Spanish fishing vessel intercepted the boat carrying the migrants about 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of the Cape Verde archipelago and rescued 38 of them, including four children, Safa Msehli, a spokeswoman for the UN’s International Organization for Migration, said by email. Seven others had been confirmed dead, and 56 were missing, she said.
“Sadly, people missing at sea are presumed dead,” Msehli said.
The number of people leaving Senegal for Spain on rickety wooden boats has surged over the past year, leading to a sudden increase in drownings.
On average, five people died each day in the six months through June while making the journey, according to Spanish aid group Walking Borders. It put the death toll from this week’s incident at 92 based on information it obtained from migrants’ relatives.
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The migrants’ boat left Fass Boye, a village on Senegal’s Atlantic Coast, for the Canary Islands around July 10 with more than 100 people on board, Massame Mbaye from the National Union of Fishermen of Senegal told Senegalese news site Rewmi.
All the passengers were Senegalese, besides one Guinea-Bissau national, Senegal’s foreign ministry said on Tuesday.
The European Union is trying to stem the flow of migrants to its shores and last month signed a controversial deal with Tunisia to try and prevent them from traveling.
Senegal, which has made migration by sea illegal, is working with Spanish patrol vessels to control immigrant flows. It has yet to decide whether to accept an offer to deploy the EU border control agency, Frontex.
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