Seventeen people died after a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized seven miles off New Providence, the most populous Island in the Bahamas.
The Miami Herald said that Aubynette Rolle, managing director of The Bahamas’ Public Hospitals Authority, described the 17 victims as 15 adult women, one man, and one child, a girl around 4 to 5 years old.
Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis told a news conference that a multi-agency investigation was underway to determine the circumstances surrounding the suspected human smuggling operation.
Davis said the Royal Bahamas Police and Defence forces responded to reports of a boating incident shortly after 1:00 am on Sunday.
“A rescue operation ensued immediately,” he disclosed, adding that the rescue teams recovered seventeen bodies from the water.
The Bahamas Prime Minister said health officials were monitoring twenty-five survivors.
He also said the authorities presumed that other individuals were missing, and the search continued.
Reuters News Agency quoted Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander as saying that up to 60 people may have been on board the ill-fated vessel.
The Bahamas is a frequent transit route for Haitians fleeing poverty and gang violence at home and seeking to reach the United States.
Immigration Minister Keith Bell said survivors indicated that they paid between $3,000 and $8,000 for the voyage.
Meantime, local media reports said two Bahamian men ‘known to police’ are in custody, assisting with investigations.
The men were aboard the vessel.
Headline photo: Survivors from the capsized boat off the Bahamas island of New Providence