Haiti migrants: At least 17 Haitians die after boat capsizes in Bahamas


At least 17 people from Haiti have died in a boat accident off the coast of The Bahamas, the government has said.

Bahamian PM Philip Davis said it is thought those on board were travelling from Haiti to Miami, Florida in the US.

Police in The Bahamas said the boat capsized more than 11 km (6.8 miles) off the island of New Providence.

Another 25 people were rescued, including one woman who was found alive inside the overturned boat, authorities said.

One child was among the dead. At least one person is still missing, with search missions underway.

Two people were taken into custody, both from The Bahamas, over the suspected human smuggling operation, officials said.

The numbers of people attempting the dangerous journey to the United States have increased significantly with the rise in Haiti of gang violence, coupled with endemic poverty.

Preliminary investigations suggest that the speed boat left New Providence, the most populous island in The Bahamian archipelago, around 01:00 (0500 GMT) on Sunday with some 60 people on board.

One woman was found alive after police heard her “knocking on the hull of the boat”, said Clayton Fernander, police commissioner of The Bahamas.

“The divers eventually went down and that’s where they recovered the bodies, the 17 bodies,” he said.

“There was one female who was still alive, was up in the air pocket of the hull of that boat, so I believe that that’s what kept her alive.”

Immigration Minister Keith Bell said survivors indicated that they paid between $3,000 and $8,000 (£2,500 and £6,670) for the voyage.

“We mourn lives lost of those seeking a better way of life,” Mr Bell said. “Those here with families and friends in Haiti, encourage your loved ones not to risk their lives.”

In May, at least 11 people, mostly from Haiti, died near the US territory of Puerto Rico.


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