Six migrants drown off French Indian Ocean island

24th July 2008, Comments 0 comments

Officials searching for survivors of a shipwreck off French Indian Ocean island Mayotte said six migrants have been found dead.

24 July 2008

MAMOUDZOU - Two planes and five patrol boats were Wednesday searching choppy waters off the French Indian Ocean island Mayotte for survivors of a shipwreck that left six migrants dead, officials said.

The provisional toll after the sinking of the makeshift vessel - believed to have had up to 30 people on board from the nearby Comoros islands - was six survivors and six dead, officials said.

French Foreign Legion soldiers based on Mayotte were also engaged in the search, scouring the island's coastline for signs of survivors.

Dozens of migrants perish each year as they attempt the crossing from the Comoros archipelago to Mayotte on traditional wooden vessels known as a kwassa-kwassa.

Mayotte opted to remain French when the rest of the Comoros won independence in 1975 and is seen by its poor neighbours as an El Dorado, offering a high standard of living, more employment opportunities and better education.

Illegal immigrants account for a third of the population of Mayotte.

[AFP / Expatica]

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