Twenty-seven migrants have died after the engines on their vessel stopped functioning in the of the sea, leaving them stranded off the coast of Mauritania.
This was confirmed in a joint statement released by the United Nations and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
“A boat en route towards Spain’s Canary Islands ran into engine trouble between the northern Mauritanian city of Nouadhibou and the city of Dakhla in Western Sahara, according to the statement.
“Those on board were left stranded at sea and began suffering from extreme dehydration,” it added.
The incident occurred “some days ago,” the UN said, although the exact date remains unclear.
Mauritanian coastguards rescued a lone survivor, a Guinean man, near Nouadhibou on Thursday.
He initially said that he had been travelling with about 40 other people — all of whom leapt into the sea when help failed to arrive.
He later clarified that there had been 28 people on board, according to the UN refugee agency’s Africa spokesman, Charlie Yaxley.
Migrants have increasingly opted to risk the perilous route from West Africa to the Canary Islands in recent years, as authorities have clamped down on crossings from Libya to Europe.
The Atlantic route is especially dangerous as shoddy migrant vessels have to ply the ocean in order to reach the Spanish islands.