Capsized Haitian Boat: At Least 30 Migrants Dead in Shipwreck Accident

Image: Capsized Haitian Boat: At Least 30 Migrants Dead in Shipwreck Accident Handout image provided by the U.S. Coast Guard shows Haitian migrants on the hull of a 40-foot sail freighter after it grounded and capsized in the Caribbean Sea on Nov. 26.

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 06:45 PM

By Morgan Chilson

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A 40-foot boat overloaded with more than 100 Haitian migrants capsized Monday night, killing at least 30 people and dumping dozens of others into the ocean near the Bahamas.

The Royal Bahamian Defense Force and the U.S. Coast Guard rescued the survivors, dropping food, rafts, and other supplies to those stranded on the boat overnight and then beginning rescue efforts by airlifting survivors.

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“This is just another example that highlights the dangers of illegal migration and taking to the sea,” Lieutenant Gabe Somma, a Coast Guard spokesperson, told The New York Times. “The sea is unforgiving. These are dangerous vessels. They are unbalanced, overloaded, and they are not stable.”

The boat was first spotted by fishermen last week and Bahamian officials asked the Coast Guard to help find the boat on Monday, the Times said. When they found the boat, it had run aground and capsized and, from the air, rescuers could see at least 10 bodies, more people in the water, and about 60 hanging onto the boat.

A Bahamian naval ship brought 110 survivors on board Tuesday, the Times said. Rescue efforts were continuing and possibly more bodies will be found.

“This has been an issue for the defense forces, because we have 100,000 square miles of waters and an issue because the geographical makeup of the Bahamas makes it very, very difficult to patrol our waters,” a Lt. Orion Deleveaux, a Bahamas official, told the Times.

This tragedy adds to others that have occurred in recent months when migrants tried to enter countries illegally.

“During this time of the year, there is always a spike,” Deleveaux told the Times. “Even though the weather conditions are not favorable, we find persons will take the journey. We could surmise the situation in Haiti is not getting better — it may be getting worse — so they risk life and limb in search of a better life.”

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