Boat with Decomposing Bodies of African Migrants Found off Brazil Coast

Tragic discovery of 20 African migrants' decomposing bodies adrift in a boat off Brazil's coast highlights the perilous Atlantic crossing to Europe. Authorities investigate the grim incident as part of a growing crisis.

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Hadeel Hashem
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Boat with Decomposing Bodies of African Migrants Found off Brazil Coast

Boat with Decomposing Bodies of African Migrants Found off Brazil Coast

Brazilian authorities are investigating the discovery of a boat carrying the decomposing bodies of 9 people, believed to be African migrants, off the country's northern coast. The boat, a roughly 12-meter white and blue canoe-shaped vessel, was found adrift in the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday.

According to police, the victims were likely migrants from Mali and Mauritania attempting to reach the Canary Islands, a Spanish territory and common destination for West African refugees fleeing to Europe. Documents and objects found near the bodies support this theory. The boat shares characteristics with Mauritanian fishing pirogues frequently used by migrants on this route.

Forensic examinations are underway to identify the bodies and determine the cause of death, a difficult task due to the advanced state of decomposition. Nine corpses have been recovered so far, with some reports suggesting up to 20 deaths. A preliminary analysis indicates the boat departed Mauritania after January 17 and was found about 4,800 kilometers from Para's coast in Brazil.

Why this matters: This grim discovery highlights the ongoing crisis of dangerous migrant crossings in the Atlantic Ocean. The route from West Africa to the European Union is one of the most perilous in the world, with many migrants dying from dehydration and malnutrition when their boats drift off course.

The incident is part of a larger trend, as at least seven boats from northwest Africa carrying dead migrants washed up in Brazil and the Caribbean in 2021. It also comes amid a 500% spike in migration from the region to Spain this year, with hundreds reported missing along the Atlantic route.

Brazilian Federal Police are working to identify the victims and determine how they died, though the advanced decomposition makes this challenging. "The bodies were in an advanced state of decomposition," a police representative stated. Local authorities have not reported any recent missing Brazilians related to the case, suggesting the deceased were not from Brazil but possibly the Caribbean or Africa.

Key Takeaways

  • Brazilian authorities investigating boat with 9 dead African migrants off coast.
  • Victims likely migrants from Mali and Mauritania attempting to reach Canary Islands.
  • 9 bodies recovered so far, with advanced decomposition complicating identification.
  • Incident highlights dangers of Atlantic migrant crossings, with many deaths reported.
  • Brazilian police working to determine cause of death and identify victims.