Nassau [Bahamas], July 25 (ANI): At least 17 people have died after a boat carrying dozens of Haitian refugees capsized off the coast of the Bahamas during a “suspected human smuggling operation”.
Rescue teams recovered the bodies of 15 females, a male, and an infant after the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force responded to the reports of a boating incident, which took place seven miles off New Providence just after 1 am on Sunday, Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said in a statement.
Davis further said that twenty-five people were recovered and handed to health officials for monitoring, but still, some people were presumed to be missing and the operation is underway, CNN reported.
“Preliminary investigations suggest that a twin-engine speed boat left a docking facility off West Bay Street around 1 am with approximately 60 people on board. It is believed that their final destination was Miami, Florida,” the Prime Minister said.
“Law enforcement officials will update you on the criminal matter as well as other rescue and recovery efforts. However, I would like to convey the condolences of my government and the people of The Bahamas to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy,” the Prime Minister said as quoted by CNN.
Condemning the smuggling operation in the country, the Bahamas PM said, “We take this opportunity to strongly condemn the organization of smuggling operations which risk human life and compromise our national security. Those found to be involved will face prosecution.”
Davis further said that he understands their (migrants) situation that led them to take such great risk.
Bahamas Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander told reporters on Sunday that an estimated 50 to 60 people were believed to have been on board the 20-ft speedboat and that the search for survivors or bodies was ongoing.
He said two Bahamian men were among the survivors and were being questioned in police custody. The men were known to police “for various offenses,” he said.
Meanwhile, immigration Minister Keith Bell said that 20 people have been taken to the detention center and were being interrogated.
“Those persons have indicated that they would have paid somewhere between USD 3,000 and USD 8,000 for this fateful journey,” Bell said.
Haiti has suffered from violent instability for years. After former President Jovenel Moise was assassinated in July last year, his successor, Ariel Henry, vowed to improve security. Nevertheless, kidnappings and gang violence continue to plague the Caribbean nation, according to CNN.
Haiti has been in turmoil for years, but the violence dramatically increased since Moise’s assassination. His killing was followed in August by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed thousands.
In addition to the security situation and political crisis, Haiti is also suffering from high inflation levels and food insecurity. The World Food Programme estimates that 1.3 million Haitians are at risk of severe hunger. (ANI)
This report is auto-generated from ANI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.