Migrant boat with 50 on board sinks off Morocco

RABAT, Oct 9 (Reuters) - A boat with around 50 illegal migrants on board sank off the coast of Morocco and nearly all its occupants were missing, state news agency MAP reported on Thursday.

The body of a 23-year-old man was found on a beach near the northern Moroccan city of Kenitra and security services were searching the ocean for survivors using helicopters, MAP said.

Another young man who was on board and found his way back to land said the boat had capsized half an hour after it set off on Tuesday night, the agency cited security sources as saying.

Moroccan officials say the number of boats of illegal migrants setting off for Spain fell 90 percent last year as the government, under pressure from European states, moved to break up trafficking gangs and boost coastal patrols.

But thousands of young Africans still brave dangerous seas every year in an attempt to reach Europe and escape poverty. (Reporting by Tom Pfeiffer; Editing by Charles Dick)