SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) _ A boat crowded with dozens of Dominicans being smuggled into Puerto Rico illegally capsized before dawn today off the northwest coast. At least 5 people drowned and many others were missing.

Only 10 of an estimated 70 people on the boat had reached land safely by early today, police said. Some of the first to make it to shore were detained near Pastillo beach at the town of Isabela. They told officials that the boat sank.

A rescue mission recovered the bodies of four women and a man, police spokesman Col. Julio Maldonado said.

The accident occurred after one of the Dominicans apparently fell overboard, survivors told police. When the boat turned around to try to save the passenger it capsized and sank, they said.

Hundreds of Dominicans yearning for a better life risk their lives every year in overcrowded wooden motor boats to make the treacherous 75-mile crossing of the Mona Passage that separates this U.S. Caribbean territory from the Dominican Republic.

Thousands are caught at sea, and 1,400 were detained once they reached land last year. It's not known how many have drowned and how many have made it safely to shore. Authorities estimate 5,000 Dominicans have slipped into Puerto Rico in the past two years.