20 feared dead in Gambia migrant boat capsize-TV

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BANJUL, Nov 12 (Reuters) Twenty African migrants were feared dead after the boat in which they were trying to reach Spain capsized in bad weather off the coast of Gambia at the weekend, Gambian state television said today.

It quoted a police officer as saying seven bodies had been recovered from the capsize, the third such tragedy involving would-be migrants headed for Europe from West Africa in the last three weeks.

Police were alerted by a survivor, Lamin Fatty, who said the boat had been carrying 50 passengers when it capsized late on Saturday off the Gambian capital Banjul.

''I believe that 30 escaped (survived), I showed the marine officers who came to the scene seven dead bodies. The captain of the vessel is at large. He asked us to pay him 1,000 euros to take us to Spain,'' Fatty told Gambian TV.

Last year, more than 30,000 African illegal migrants landed in Spain's Canary Islands after making the long, dangerous journey in rickety open boats from the West African coast.

Hundreds are believed to have drowned and several thousand were repatriated to their countries of origin.

REUTERS PD HS1736

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