A boat carrying Africans illegally trying to reach Spain's Canary Islands capsized off Mauritania's coast, killing at least four and leaving 26 others missing and presumed dead, officials said Monday.

Rescue workers saved 14 people from Saturday's wreck several miles off the shore of this West African nation, said Madine Ba, the official in charge of maritime affairs in the northern city of Nouadhibou.

The boat left the coast near the city carrying 44 citizens of Senegal, Mali, Nigeria, Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, he said.

Four bodies have been found and 26 people are missing and considered dead, Ba said, citing survivors' accounts. Officers patrolling the waters for illegal fishing boats found the wreck, he said.

The Canary Islands are about 600 miles north of Nouadhibou in the Atlantic Ocean. Heavy winds were blowing Saturday in the area, Ba said.

African immigrants looking to enter Europe without proper documentation often seek to sneak into the Spanish islands or an enclave north across the Sahara Desert, in Morocco. Many die each year trying.