More than 60 migrants feared dead at sea off Cape Verde coast

More than 60 people are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants was found off Cape Verde in West Africa.

Thirty-eight people, including children, were rescued, with footage showing them being helped ashore, some on stretchers, on the island of Sal.

Almost all those on board the boat, which was at sea for over a month, are thought to have been from Senegal.

Cape Verde officials have called for global action on migration to help prevent further loss of life.

The vessel was first spotted on Monday, police told the AFP news agency. Initial reports suggested the boat had sunk but it was later clarified that it had been found drifting.

The wooden pirogue style boat was seen almost 320km (200 miles) off Sal, a part of Cape Verde, by a Spanish fishing boat, which then alerted authorities, police said.

The survivors include four children aged between 12 and 16, a spokesperson for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said.

Senegal’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued late on Tuesday that the boat had left the country on 10 July with 101 passengers on board.

The ministry said it was liaising with authorities in Cape Verde for the repatriation of survivors.

The passengers’ other countries of origin reportedly included Sierra Leone and, in one case, Guinea-Bissau.

Jose Moreira, a health official on Sal, said the survivors were improving and were being looked after, with a focus on rehydration and tests for conditions like malaria.

Cape Verde is around 600km off the coast of West Africa on a maritime migration route to the Spanish Canary Islands, often used as a gateway to the EU.

Health Minister Filomena Goncalves said: “We know that migration issues are global issues, which require international cooperation, a lot of discussion and global strategy.

“We all – all the nations – have to sit down at the table and see what we can do so that we don’t lose any more lives at sea, above all.”

IOM spokeswoman Safa Msehli said safe pathways for migration were “sorely lacking” and that their absence gave “room to smugglers and traffickers to put people on these deadly journeys”.

At least 559 people died trying to reach the Canary Islands in 2022, according to figures from the IOM, while 126 people died or went missing on the same route in the first six months of this year with 15 shipwrecks recorded.

At least 15 people drowned when a boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of the Senegalese capital Dakar in late July.

The group were said to have been in a boat similar to this one, involved in an incident in July in which 15 migrants drowned

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