At least 14 people have died after their wooden boat capsized off the Senegalese capital Dakar, a district deputy mayor told AFP on Monday.
“It seems to be migrants,” Samba Kandji said after several similar tragedies in recent weeks.
Rescue workers were still looking for more bodies after the pirogue overturned overnight from Sunday to Monday.
“The navy told the vessel to draw alongside and they fled,” Kandji later added.
“I was told 14 (dead) but two more bodies have been found. We assume it’s 16,” he said.
Activity has increased in recent weeks along the Atlantic sea route from northwest Africa used by migrants to try to reach Europe via Spain’s Canary Islands.
At least 14 people died in mid-July when a pirogue capsized off Senegal’s Saint-Louis, near the border with Mauritania.
Morocco’s navy said it had “rescued” nearly 900 irregular migrants in a one-week period this month. Most were from sub-Saharan Africa.
NGOs regularly report fatal shipwrecks in Moroccan, Spanish and international waters, with unofficial estimates putting the death toll in the dozens if not hundreds.