At least 17 Haitian migrants killed when boat capsizes in Bahamas: officials


At least 17 people believed to be Haitian migrants were killed Sunday morning when a suspected human smuggling speedboat they were on capsized in the Bahamas, authorities said.

Another 25 people on the ship were rescued and the search was continuing Sunday afternoon for others still missing, Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis told a news conference.

Davis said there were about 60 people on the boat when it capsized. He said the ship’s destination was Miami.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force responded to calls from the capsized boat around 1:30 a.m., officials said. Search and rescue teams found the vessel about seven miles off New Providence, the most populous island in the Bahamas, authorities said.

Survivors of a capsized migrant boat roost on the capsized vessel off New Providence Island, Bahamas, July 24, 2022.

Royal Bahamas Defense Force via Reuters

Davis said the passengers aboard the boat would be Haitian migrants. The ship capsized along a popular route for Haitian migrants attempting to enter the United States.

Bahamas Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said two people suspected of being smugglers have been arrested.

“We take this opportunity to strongly condemn the organization of smuggling operations, which endanger lives and compromise our national security,” Davis said. “Those involved will be prosecuted.”

Fernander said a preliminary investigation suggests the twin-engine speedboat left a docking facility in New Providence around 1 a.m. and capsized shortly after.

He said a passenger was found alive under the hull of the boat and officials believe he survived by finding an air pocket.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force released a photo showing the capsized ship’s hull partially protruding from the water.

PHOTO: The body of a migrant who died after his ship sank off the Bahamas is carried away by morgue workers in Nassau, Bahamas, July 24, 2022

The body of a migrant who died after his ship sank off the Bahamas is carried away by morgue workers in Nassau, Bahamas on July 24, 2022

ABC News

The cause of the incident is under investigation. It was unclear if anyone on the ship was wearing a life jacket.

The tragedy comes after U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers and the Miami-Dade Police Department on Thursday intercepted a sailboat filled with 150 migrants that ran aground in Boca Chita Key near Key Biscayne and the park. Biscayne National, officials said. Authorities said several children were among those rescued.

US Coast Guard crews also responded to the incident in Boca Chita Key and distributed life jackets to migrants before they were transferred to cutters and those in need of treatment were taken to hospital Homestead, according to the Coast Guard.

PHOTO: The body of a migrant who died after his ship sank off the Bahamas is carried away by morgue workers in Nassau, Bahamas, July 24, 2022.

The body of a migrant who died after his ship sank off the Bahamas is carried away by morgue workers in Nassau, Bahamas, July 24, 2022.

ABC News

Since October, the US Coast Guard reports having intercepted and returned more than 6,100 Haitian migrants attempting to reach the United States.

In January, 34 Haitian migrants died when a human smuggling boat they were on capsized in the Florida Straits. The only person to survive was found clinging to the ship’s hull, the Coast Guard said in a statement. The survivor, according to the Coast Guard, told investigators that no one on the capsized vessel was wearing a life jacket.

Many Haitian migrants have fled their country due to the devastating effects of natural disasters and political instability that have led to economic struggles.

ABC News

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