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Fourteen die in boat capsize off Senegal capital

Dozens of onlookers on the beach watched the drama unfold.

At least 14 people who appeared to be migrants were killed when their wooden boat capsized off the Senegalese capital Dakar, a local official told AFP on Monday.

Police and rescue workers were still looking for more bodies after the pirogue overturned overnight Sunday to Monday.

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“The navy told the vessel to draw alongside and they fled,” district deputy mayor Samba Kandji said.

“I was told 14 (dead) but two more bodies have been found. We assume it’s 16,” he said.

Floating boat

A wooden boat, which several witnesses on the beach said had been carrying the victims, could be seen floating near the shore.

An AFP journalist saw fire department workers recover a body and place it on a tarpaulin on the beach.

Dozens of onlookers on the beach watched the drama unfold.

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One of them, 23-year-old Amndy Moustapha Sene, said he dreams of becoming a professional footballer and playing in Europe.

“I dreamed of going to Europe because there in no future here. I was ready to board a pirogue, but now I’ve decided to emigrate legally when the opportunity arises,” he said, noting the boats were too risky.

Increased activity

Activity has increased in recent weeks along the Atlantic sea route from northwest Africa used by migrants to try to reach Europe via Spain’s Canary Islands.

At least 14 people died in mid-July when a pirogue capsized off Senegal’s Saint-Louis, near the border with Mauritania.

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Morocco’s navy said it had rescued nearly 900 irregular migrants in a one-week period this month. Most were from sub-Saharan Africa.

NGOs regularly report fatal shipwrecks in Moroccan, Spanish and international waters, with unofficial estimates putting the death toll in the dozens, if not hundreds.

During a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Senegalese President Macky Sall, “paid tribute to the memory of those who died in recent accidents at sea”.

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He called on the government to intensify controls at potential departure sites, as well as to deploy more “measures of surveillance, awareness-raising and support for youth” and reinforce public programmes that “combat clandestine emigration”.

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