PARIS – At least seven people died and six people were missing after a ship carrying illegal immigrants capsized off the Indian Ocean French overseas territory of Mayotte, officials said Friday.The boat was travelling from Anjouan in the Comoros with 24 people on board when it capsized during the night. Those who died were four children and three women. Another 11 people have been rescued, authorities said.
The accident is the second in the area in less than two months, after another boat flipped over on reefs around Mayotte in May, leaving five people dead, 15 missing and 19 survivors.
Mayotte is part of the Indian Ocean archipelago of the Comoros. While the three other islands chose independence from France in 1975, it opted to remain under French rule.
Many Comorans hoping to find work or medical care board rickety fishing boats to attempt the risky voyage, often foundering on coral reefs.
Most of them try to travel over from the poorest Comoran island, Anjouan, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Mayotte.
Some two-fifths of Mayotte’s 200,000 inhabitants are thought to be illegal immigrants.