Related News

Home » World

85 missing as migrants' boat capsizes

AN overloaded sailboat carrying Haitian migrants sank off the Turks and Caicos Islands and as many as 85 people are missing, the United States Coast Guard said yesterday.

An estimated 200 people were aboard the boat when it capsized Monday afternoon, Petty Officer 1st Class Jennifer Johnson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman in Miami, said. One survivor said the boat struck a reef as it tried to elude police.

The Coast Guard was optimistic daylight would help it find more survivors.

"We're really hoping we can find as many people as possible," Johnson said.

Rescuers found 113 survivors stranded on two reefs roughly 3 kilometers southeast of West Caicos island. Most of them were ferried to land by Turks and Caicos authorities using small boats. Two bodies were also recovered.

The boat had been at sea for three days when those aboard saw a police vessel and accidentally steered the boat onto a reef as they tried to hide, survivor Alces Julien said.

Johnson said information from survivors indicated that the boat set out from Haiti with about 160 passengers but stopped at an unknown location and picked up 40 others.

She said overloading appeared to be a factor in the accident near the island chain north of Haiti and southeast of the Bahamas.

"These vessels, they are grossly overloaded. Two hundred people on a sailboat is astronomical," she said.

Johnson said the Coast Guard was using a helicopter, a jet and the cutter Valiant, which was sending out smaller search vessels.

On Monday, Turks and Caicos authorities reported the accident to the US Coast Guard, which patrols the region for drug traffickers and illegal migrants.

Haitians routinely take to the seas in overcrowded boats, hoping to escape poverty in the country.

In May 2007, an overcrowded sloop carrying more than 160 migrants capsized off the Turks and Caicos Islands. Some were eaten by sharks, 78 survived.

This May, a boat carrying about 30 mainly Haitian migrants capsized off Florida, killing at least nine people, including a pregnant woman.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend