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Dozens of Migrants Reported Dead in Sahara Desert After Truck Breaks Down

NIAMEY, Niger — Dozens of migrants died after their truck broke down in the Sahara Desert, according to the Red Cross.

Six survivors walked to a remote village in Niger where they reported that 44 people died of thirst. The victims were said to include three babies and two other children.

Most of the migrants were from Ghana and Nigeria.

Reuters and the authorities in Niger were unable to immediately confirm their account.

Lawal Taher, the department head for the Red Cross in Niger's Bilma region, said the organization had told officials and that a search for the bodies was underway.

The number of migrants who cross the Sahara has increased in recent years as impoverished West Africans risk their lives to try to reach Europe.

In one of the most perilous parts of the journey, thousands of migrants each week are crammed into pickup trucks for the days-long ride from Niger into Libya, often with only enough room for a few gallons of water.

Authorities and aid organizations are able to keep track of the thousands of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean Sea between Africa and Europe, but is it almost impossible to know how many have died in the vast and unpoliced Sahara.

Image: Map showing Bilma, Niger
A map showing the location of Bilma, Niger. Google Maps