Africa

Death toll from Senegal spiritual retreat fire rises to 34

Authorities in Senegal say the death toll from a fire at a religious pilgrimage site last month has risen to 34.

Senegalese state media reported Wednesday that the latest victim was the sister of one of the event's organizers. Authorities initially reported a dozen deaths.

The fire swept through the gathering in Medina Gounass, a village 520 kilometers (about 320 miles) east of the capital, Dakar.

Thousands of Muslims from Senegal as well as Gambia and Mauritania were taking part in a spiritual retreat when the tragedy occurred April 12.

Witnesses said heavy winds caused the fire to spread rapidly through makeshift shelters. Officials are promising stricter safety precautions ahead of next year's event.