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Bahamas, Coast Guard continue migrant search

November 27, 2013

MIAMI (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard found a man Wednesday who survived the deadly capsizing of a boat packed with migrants in the Bahamas as a search continued for survivors or more bodies.

The crew of a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the survivor on a small island northeast of Green Cay, about 10 miles from where a sailboat with about 150 Haitian migrants on board ran aground and capsized Monday night, officials said.

The man was turned over to Bahamian authorities, who are conducting a criminal investigation into the smuggling voyage that officials believe resulted in about 30 deaths. Ten bodies had been recovered and approximately 15-20 bodies had been spotted from the air, said Lt. Origin Deleveaux of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force.

The 40-foot sailboat capsized in the Exuma chain in an area dotted with reefs, rocks, tiny islands and water that is too shallow in many places for Bahamian military vessels, making it difficult to find and recover bodies, Deleveaux said.

“These are dangerous waters, unnavigable waters,” he said. “They take this route because they realize it is an area we can’t navigate in our vessels.”

The sailboat capsized near Harvey Cays, about 70 miles (112 kilometers) southeast of New Providence, the island that includes the capital of Nassau. Authorities said it had been at sea for about eight to nine days when it struck ground. About 100 migrants clung to the vessel for hours before they were rescued.

The survivors have been taken to New Providence and will likely be repatriated to Haiti.

Update hourly