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Commander Siga Batista said the pirogue, a narrow wooden fishing boat , sank on Monday night off the impoverished West African country, which has 200 kilometres of coastline and no patrol ships to save lives on the high seas.
“An overloaded canoe transporting illegal migrants, overturned accidentally in our waters,” Batista told AFP by telephone, saying that the fisheries surveillance department had alerted him to the disaster.
“We are not sure how many migrants were on board by the time the vessel sank, nor their identity or even their Nationality. But according to information that has reached me there were more than 60 people on board of the canoe ,” Batista added.
They haven’t found any survivors as yet, but local radio stations have asked fishermen to tell authorities if they come across any bodies or passengers still alive.
“Because of the financial situation, we have experienced hardships organizing a rescue operation,” Batista said.
The coastal surveillance agency has two speedboats, but these are often prevented from leaving the port due to lack of fuel, a navy officer told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Guinea-Bissau, a is one of the world’s poorest countries.
The 44th anniversary of independence on September 24 passed without festivities as all available financial resources were put towards organising legislative elections scheduled for November 18.
The country has been in the fight of a power struggle since August 2015 and many hope the polls will help to end this political crisis.
It should be remembered west African countries are widely involved in the illegal immigration of people to Europe in search of better lives which has brought about tensions during negotiations of how to handle the matter in Europe.
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