A vessel sits off the coast of Senegal. On Saturday another vessel caught fire and capsized, killing 140 people. File Photo courtesy of the IOM
Oct. 29 (UPI) -- At least 140 people drowned after a vessel carrying migrants to Europe capsized off the coast of Senegal, the United Nations' International Organization for Migration said Thursday.
The agency said it's the deadliest shipwreck recorded in 2020.
Citing media sources, the IOM said nearby fishermen, and the Senegalese and Spanish navies worked to rescue 59 people from the boat and retrieve the remains of another 20.
Members of the community said the vessel left Mbour, in western Senegal, on Saturday and was bound for the Canary Islands. The boat caught fire a few hours after departure and capsized near Saint-Louis on the northwest coast of Senegal.
This was the sixth shipwreck with migrants recorded in the past week, including four in the Central Mediterranean and one in the English Channel.
The IOM said there has been an increase in the departure of migrant ships from West Africa to the Canary Islands in recent weeks. There have been about 11,000 arrivals to the Canary Islands this year, up from 2,557 during the same period last year. More than 32,000 arrived there in 2006.
"We call for unity between governments, partners and the international community to dismantle trafficking and smuggling networks that take advantage of desperate youth," said Bakary Doumbia, IOM Senegal chief of mission.
"It is also important that we advocate for enhanced legal channels to undermine the traffickers' business model and prevent loss of life."