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Corpses found adrift in boat off Brazil likely migrants from Mauritania, Mali - Police

Police help move a boat that was carrying decomposing corpses to the Vila do Castelo port in Braganca, Brazil, early Monday, April 15, 2024.   -  
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Raimundo Pacco/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


Deceased migrants from Mali and Mauritania are believed to among the victims discovered on a boat full of corpses off Brazil.

Police added Monday that other nationalities could be among the deceased.

Fishermen off Brazil's northern coastal state of Pará found the boat adrift Saturday in the Atlantic Ocean.

Brazil's Federal police has recovered nine dead in total.

Brazilian federal police say they are still working to identify the bodies and the cause of death, a difficult task given the advanced state of decomposition they were found in.

The roughly 12-meter (39-foot) -long white and blue canoe-shaped boat found in Brazil shares the same characteristics of Mauritanian fishing pirogues frequently used by West African migrants and refugees fleeing to Spain’s Canary Islands, suggesting Brazil was probably not their destination.

Dangerous migration route

The Atlantic route from West Africa to Europe is one of the most dangerous in the world. Boats that miss their destination can be swept away by Atlantic trade winds and currents from east to west, drifting for months. Migrants aboard often die of dehydration and malnutrition. Others have also been known jump into the ocean out desperation.

An Associated Press investigation published last year revealed that in 2021, at least seven boats from northwest Africa had been found in the Caribbean and Brazil, all carrying dead bodies.

While more than 13,000 migrants have reached the Canaries so far in 2024, according to Spain's interior ministry, hundreds others have been reported missing. In Mauritania, families have even set up a “national commission” charged with looking for the disappeared migrants.

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