Up to 30 feared dead as migrants' sailing boat capsizes in Bahamas

Vessel from Haiti was 'overloaded and unseaworthy' says US Coast Guard

A sailing boat passing through the southern Bahamas islands with about 150 Haitian migrants on board capsized after running aground, killing up to 30 people and leaving the rest clinging to the vessel for hours, say authorities.

The exact death toll remained uncertain. Authorities on the scene confirmed at least 20 dead and determined the number could reach 30 based on accounts from survivors, said Lt. Origin Deleveaux, a Royal Bahamas Defense Force spokesman.

The remains of five victims had been recovered and the Bahamas military and police were working with the US Coast Guard to recover additional bodies as they pulled survivors from the stranded sailboat.

"Right now, we are just trying to recover as many bodies as we possibly can," Deleveaux said.

Authorities believe the migrants had been at sea for eight to nine days with limited food and water and no life jackets, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma said. Many were severely dehydrated when the first rescue crews reached them. The boat, in addition to being overloaded, likely encountered rough weather, Deleveaux said.

"It was obviously just grossly overloaded, unbalanced, unseaworthy," Somma said. "An incredibly dangerous voyage."

The capsizing of overloaded vessels occurs with disturbing frequency in the area, most recently in mid-October when four Haitian women died off Miami. There have also been fatal incidents near the Turks and Caicos Islands, between Haiti and the Bahamas, and in the rough Mona Passage that divides the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.

"Unfortunately we see these types of tragedies occur on a monthly basis," Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Ryan Doss said. "Every year we see hundreds of migrants needlessly lose their lives at sea taking part in these dangerous and illegal voyages."

It's common enough that the Coast Guard recently developed a public service announcement that will run on TV and radio in Florida, Haiti, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic urging people not to risk the deadly ocean voyages.

This latest incident occurred late Monday near Harvey Cays, about 80 miles (125 kilometers) southeast of New Providence, the island that includes the capital of Nassau, and 260 miles (417 kilometers) southeast of Miami.

Fishermen spotted the dangerously overloaded sailboat and alerted the Bahamas military, which asked the Coast Guard for assistance in locating the vessel, Somma said. By the time it was spotted, the 40-foot boat had run aground in an area dotted with tiny outcroppings and reefs and then capsized.

Photos taken by the Coast Guard showed people clinging to every available space on the overturned vessel. Some were taken to a clinic on nearby Staniel Cay for treatment for dehydration.

By late Tuesday afternoon, the Coast Guard and Bahamian authorities had rescued about 110 people, including 19 women. Deleveaux said there were no children on board. Smugglers will often seek to blend in with the migrants when they are captured and authorities did not announce any arrests.

The government of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe issued a statement Tuesday night offering condolences to families of the victims while also trying to discourage people from taking the dangerous trips.

"We are very concerned by the resurgence of these events and are going to take measures to discourage them while working to address the underlying circumstances that provoke the people to take those risks," Lamothe adviser Salim Succar said.

Migrants have long traversed the Bahamian archipelago to reach the United States. Thousands have also settled in the Bahamas in recent years. Deleveaux said those rescued from the boat near Harvey Cays would be taken to a military base on New Providence, processed and then repatriated to Haiti.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
The Queen and the letter sent to Charlie
football
Arts and Entertainment
Eurovision Song Contest 2015
EurovisionGoogle marks the 2015 show
News
Two lesbians hold hands at a gay pride parade.
peopleIrish journalist shares moving story on day of referendum
Arts and Entertainment
<p>
<b>Kathryn Williams</b>
</p>
<p>
When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
<p>
He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
<p>
I really believe that Louis recognised the music from the tour, and when I gave birth to him at home I played Ray's record as something that he would recognise to come into the world with. </p>
booksKathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
News
Liz Kendall played a key role in the introduction of the smoking ban
newsLiz Kendall: profile
Life and Style
techPatent specifies 'anthropomorphic device' to control media devices
Voices
The PM proposed 'commonsense restrictions' on migrant benefits
voicesAndrew Grice: Prime Minister can talk 'one nation Conservatism' but putting it into action will be tougher
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?