Bahamas finds 3 bodies from capsized migrant boat
MIAMI (AP) — A sailboat packed with dozens of migrants from Haiti apparently struck a reef and capsized in the Bahamas, reportedly killing at least 10 people, authorities said Tuesday.
Low-resolution photos taken by the U.S. Coast Guard during a rescue operation showed about 100 people on the boat, clinging to every available space on the overturned vessel east of Staniel Cay in the Bahamas.
The Royal Bahamas Defense Force and U.S. Coast Guard launched the rescue operation on Monday night and had rescued about 110 people by noon Tuesday, said Lt. Origin Deleveaux, a spokesman.
The bodies of three of the migrants had been recovered but people on board the vessel said they believe about 10 had drowned, Deleveaux said.
The Bahamian Defense Force planned to continue sweeping the area for survivors or the remains of migrants and would then take them to a military base on the island of New Providence, he said. Most will likely eventually be sent back to Haiti.
Some of the migrants were treated for dehydration, including about a dozen airlifted from by the U.S. Coast Guard.
U.S. Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss called the capsizing an “avoidable tragedy,” that has become common in this area.
“Unfortunately we see these types of tragedies occur on a monthly basis,” said Doss, a Coast Guard spokesman. “Every year we see hundreds of migrants needlessly lose their lives at sea taking part in these dangerous and illegal voyages.”
The boat struck ground off Harvey Cay, just weat of Staniel Cay, which is about 80 miles (125 kilometers) southeast of New Providence, the island that includes the capital of Nassau.
The boat, in addition to being overloaded, likely encountered rough water, Deleveaux said.
Migrants have long passed through the Bahamian archipelago in overloaded vessels, generally either seeking to settle in the Bahamas or reach the nearby United States.