At least 62 people were killed, including several children, when a boat carrying more than 150 migrants capsized in the Atlantic Ocean off the West African nation of Mauritania, the United Nations migrant agency said Thursday.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said 83 survivors managed to swim to shore after their boat capsized after hitting a rock in rough seas Wednesday.
At least 10 survivors were hospitalized while others were helped by authorities in Mauritania. "The Mauritanian authorities are very efficiently coordinating the response with the agencies currently present in (the northern city of) Nouadhibou," IOM Mauritania Chief of Mission Laura Lungarotti said.
The migrants "were mostly clandestine immigrants trying to reach Spain, coming from Banjul in Gambia," Mauritania's interior ministry said in a statement.
The migrants had been trying to reach Spain after setting sail Nov. 27 from Gambia.
The sea passage from West Africa to Europe was once a major route for migrants seeking jobs and a better life.
The sinking is one of the deadliest incidents since the mid-2000s when Mediterranean European countries stepped up maritime patrols.
There was no statement from authorities in Gambia, which has been a launching point for tens of thousands of migrants.
Despite the country's small size of 2.35 million, more than 35,000 Gambians arrived in Europe between 2014 and 2018, according to the IOM.