Dozens of illegal immigrants were feared drowned after 14 bodies washed ashore in Mauritania, while another 179 people heading to Spain's Canary Islands were rescued before their boats sank, a police official said.
The 14 dead washed ashore on the beaches of the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott on Sunday, probably after their boat capsized, police speculated, and they feared dozens more may have died.
"There are probably more bodies in the ocean and we must monitor the beaches, as the boats usually carry 90 to 96 people," said the police official who requested anonymity.
"They were certainly illegal immigrants because we haven't had any reports of missing fishermen."
However, Mauritanian authorities managed to rescue 179 illegal immigrants heading from Senegal to Spain's Canary Islands aboard two boats.
One of the boats, with 92 people on board, had been taking on water for two days and broke up moments after the migrants were rescued.