Written by Staff Writer
At least 27 people died when an inflatable boat carrying mainly Sudanese migrants sank off the coast of France on Saturday.
The survivors were said to be in critical condition in hospital.
A Local Authority in the region, Rennes, identified the dead as 14 Sudanese nationals, 7 Eritreans, an Algerian, a Nigerian and a Syrian, according to AFP.
French police said in a statement that France’s police operations room detected the wooden boat around one kilometer off the coast of the seaside resort town of Correze at around 3.30 p.m. local time.
The police said the boat carrying around 70 people — some of whom were injured and were taken to local hospitals — capsized due to strong winds and water currents that had gathered.
Officials said among the 35 survivors were three children under the age of five.
“The scene is under control. The emergency services have retrieved 27 bodies from the water. Some persons were still believed to be inside the boat,” the French Interior Ministry said in a statement.
CNN reached out to the Sudanese Foreign Ministry for comment.
The incident comes days after French President Emmanuel Macron met with leaders of Sudan’s main opposition movements in Paris, two years after his predecessor Emmanuel Macron took an unpopular trip to Sudan to increase his foreign policy profile.
But he drew criticism from opposition leaders at the time for making little progress on the number of European refugees returning to Sudan from Europe’s refugee camps.
Photos released by local media before the trip showed a seated President Macron welcoming then-Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir at the Elysee Palace with an open-air billboard showing a Sudanese-born French woman whose mother was imprisoned after a passport was confiscated during her birth in Libya.
He also drew criticism for holding talks with Bashir during the visit.
Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court over alleged war crimes in Darfur.
In February the European Union’s governing body, the European Council, backed a proposal by France to overhaul its asylum policy in an effort to improve conditions at French migrant reception centers.
It said the new rules would help reduce the number of asylum applications and speed up the processing of those who were granted refugee status.
French President Emmanuel Macron had also caused controversy in February when he took the chair of the G20 group of leading economies.
He made some of his remarks by publicly kissing Chinese President Xi Jinping in a televised ceremony of unity.
He was criticized by human rights groups over his welcoming stance to Xi at the time.