Fire on dugout believed to be ignited by a cigarette leaves at least 14 people dead and injures 21 others, officials say.

Many migrants and refugees set off from Senegal to try to reach the Spanish Canary Islands as a gateway into Europe.
Many migrants and refugees set off from Senegal to try to reach the Spanish Canary Islands as a gateway into Europe. (AFP Archive)

At least 14 migrants and refugees have died when a boat caught fire in south Senegal, a local mayor and a health official told the AFP news agency.

"We have been able to recover 14 bodies," David Diatta, the mayor of the coastal town of Kafountine in Casamance, said after the fire on Monday.

"The toll will likely rise," he added.

The town's chief nurse, Bourama Faboure, said that 21 people had been injured, including four who suffered second-degree burns.

READ MORE: Senegal navy searches for dozens lost after migrant boat capsizes

Search for missing continues 

The dugout had been carrying about 140 people, nearly 90 of whom survived and were able to be identified.

"There were Guineans, Nigerians, Gambians and Senegalese," Diatta said.

But the search continued for those still missing, he said.

"The survivors are saying that the fire was started by someone smoking a cigarette where the fuel was kept," the mayor said.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Many migrants set off from Senegal to try to reach the Spanish Canary Islands as a gateway into Europe.

The fire comes after at least 23 African migrants died when around 2,000 migrants stormed the heavily fortified border between the Moroccan region of Nador and the Spanish enclave of Melilla on Friday.

Source: AFP