Death toll from boat tragedy off Mauritania rises to 62

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FILE PHOTO: Migrants are rescued in the Mediterranean as they attempted to make the precarious sea crossing to Europe in August 2019./ Getty Images

The death toll from Wednesday’s boat tragedy in off Mauritania has risen to 62 after the coast guard found retrieved more bodies.

The disaster was one of the deadliest in 2019 among young Africans trying to reach Europe.

At least 85 survivors managed to swim in the rough seas to the shore after the boat capsized.

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the boat departed from The Gambia on Wednesday with at least 150 people on board.

The agency said it is now in the process of linking families who believe their loved ones were aboard the boat, with consular officials.

It added that the survivors included 79 Gambians and six Senegalese nationals.

“We have been receiving calls from families in The Gambia who believe their loved-ones were on the boat,” said IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission Laura Lungarotti. “This is one of our priorities at this time.”

The coast guard on Friday said it found another boat carrying at least 150 Gambian migrants on their way to Spain.

Thousands of desperate migrants continue to embark on the precarious Mediterranean Sea journey in a bid to reach Europe.

According to IOM, 158 people have died in 11 confirmed fatal shipwrecks this year along the 1,400km-long Western Africa migration route which runs from Cape Verde to the Canary Islands. Eight of the earlier fatal trips began in Morocco and two in Mauritania. At least 43 people died in five reported tragedies at sea in 2018.

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