MEXICO CITY: One migrant from the African country of Cameroon was found dead Friday and two others are missing after a boat capsized just off Mexico’s southern Pacific coast.
Emergency crews rescued seven men and one woman who had been in the same boat. They were taken to a local hospital for evaluation.
The search continued for two others who have not yet been found. The Mexican Navy was helping in the efforts.
The prosecutors’ office in the southern state of Chiapas said the accident occurred early Friday near the Guatemalan border, in an area used by migrant traffickers in the past. The boat may have foundered on a shoal at the mouth of an inlet to a coastal lagoon.
It identified the dead man as 39-year-old Emmanuel Cheo Ngu. Many migrants flee Cameroon to escape the conflict between the English-speaking population and the Francophone majority-government.
Mexico’s National Immigration Institute distributed photos showing at least two of the migrants, a man and a woman, being carried on stretchers.
The capsize apparently occurred at a spot at least 230 kilometers (143 miles) by sea from the nearest point on the Guatemalan coast. That would be a long trip for what the immigration institute described as a fishing boat.
It was not clear if the migrants had set sail from Guatemala; hundreds of African migrants have been looking for a way to skirt the southern Mexican city of Tapachula, where they say immigration authorities have stalled on giving them residency or transit papers. Almost all of them want to seek asylum in the United States, rather than stay in Mexico.
The migrants have engaged in scuffles with police at the Tapachula immigration offices in recent weeks. Mexico says they can stay in southern Mexico, or leave by the southern border, but the migrants want documents that will allow them to reach the northern border.
Mexican immigration activist Irineo Mujica wrote that “this situation of bottling them up against their will in the city of Tapachula is starting to take a toll in blood.”