At least 140 migrants headed for Europe are now dead after their boat caught on fire and capsized off the coast of Senegal, the U.N. announced Thursday.
The ship, which was carrying 200 people total, sank within hours of leaving the town of Mbour, Reuters reports. The incident is the deadliest shipwreck to occur so far in 2020, per Reuters. (RELATED: British Special Forces Storm Tanker Suspected To Be Hijacked By Asylum-Seekers)
60 people were rescued from the accident by local fisherman and the Senagalese and Spanish navies, according to a statement from the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The migrants departed Senegal on Saturday to head for the Canary Islands, a small Spanish archipelago located off the coast of Morocco, according to Reuters. The islands are the southernmost autonomous community of Spain.
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Migration from West Africa to the Canary Islands has more than quadrupled in 2020, the IOM reports. The dangerous route has become more favorable as passageways through the Mediterranean have become less accessible due to stricter European immigration controls, per Reuters. More than 25% of the ships that left Senegal for the Canary Islands in September experienced an incident or wreck of some kind, the IOM says.