EYEAFRICA TV: Banjul, The Gambia: Gambia’s foreign affairs ministry Friday said it has received official correspondence from the country’s Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania that was revealed through the survivors that there were 195 people on board and 63 people have now been confirmed dead from a boat that left The Gambia a week ago.
Earlier reports from the United Nations migration agency –IOM- indicted that the boat that was carrying an estimated 150 migrants left The Gambia a week ago and capsized after it got stank as it approached the coast of Mauritania on Wednesday. It also reported that eighty-three others, including two women and at least 10 minors are reported to have managed to swim to shore and are now receiving medical assistance.
On Thursday, Gambia government said in a statement that 52 of its citizens have died in the boat accident, while several others who escaped were receiving care.
But the foreign ministry’s latest update indicate that there were 13 women and 11 of them died, while investigators are employing different identification techniques such as photos taking of corpses before the burial and using survivors to identify the dead through those photos.
“This method will help establish the nationalities especially the number of Gambians involved. The memo also highlighted that 85 people have been rescued and 10 of them are receiving medical care. From the 85 rescued, 78 are Gambians and 7 Senegalese nationals. However, 47 people are still missing.”
The Ministry said it has been in contact with officials of the Gambian Embassy in Nouakchott who are closely working with Regional Mauritanian authorities as well as the International Organisation for Migration and UNHCR to manage the crisis situation on the ground.
It said the country’s Ambassador to Mauritania, Mawdo C. Juwara and the Honorary Consul held series of meetings with the Governor of Dhahlet Nouadhibou Region with the Regional Security Chiefs on the issue and the need to continue with the search and rescue operations.
“Rescue or recovery efforts will continue for those missing as well as to find ways and means to offer assistance in terms of medical treatment to those who need medical attention and to provide accommodation and food for the survivors.”
The ministry assured the general public that once the identification is completed, The Gambian Embassy, the Honorary Consulate, Mauritanian Regional Administrative authorities in Nouadhibou, the IOM as well as the UNHCR will continue further medical checkups of the survivors to ascertain their fitness to be repatriated to The Gambia and Senegal.
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Foreign Affairs is said to be part of the delegation dispatched by the Government to take part in the investigation and recovery efforts.