A boat carrying would-be illegal immigrants capsized Monday off France's Indian Ocean island of Mayotte, killing at least 17 people on board, the French government said.
The boat, carrying migrants from the Comoros Islands about 200 kilometers (125 miles) to the northwest, overturned while trying to evade the coast guard, said the Ministry of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Co-Development in a statement.
Four people on the boat survived, and a search was continuing for others thrown overboard, the statement said. It was unclear how many people had been on the boat.
France last year expelled more than 16,000 illegal immigrants from Comoros who had reached Mayotte, the ministry said.