Many Missing After Boat Capsizes Off Turks and Caicos

Photo courtesy of AJE

From Al Jazeera:

At least 85 people are missing in open water off the Turks and Caicos islands after a boat with up to 200 Haitian migrants on board capsized, killing at least two, the US coast guard has said.

Authorities rescued 113 survivors from reefs about 3.7km southeast of West Caicos island after the boat sank late on Monday, Jennifer Johnson, a petty officer for the US coast guard, said.


"We're just concentrating on locating those 85 people, determining if they are safe and then getting them the medical attention that they need," Johnson said on Tuesday.

"That is our primary concern right now."

Boat overloaded

Based on statements from survivors, the overloaded vessel left Haiti with about 160 people on board, Johnson said.

It then stopped to pick up more passengers, which raised the total number of people on board when the vessel sank to 200, she said.   

The death toll was revised downward to two from an earlier report of four.

US coast guard vessels assisted Turks and Caicos authorities in the search for more survivors, Barry Bena, a US coast guard spokesman, said.

Some of the most severely injured survivors were taken by helicopter for medical treatment to Providenciales, the capital of the Turks and Caicos.

The Turks and Caicos islands are a British territory in the Atlantic ocean, between the southern Bahamas and the north coast of Haiti.

Haitians often leave their country in crowded boats in an attempt to escape poverty and find work in the Bahamas or Florida.


Last week, the US coast guard found 124 Haitian migrants travelling on what they said was a "grossly overloaded" boat about 240 km southwest of the site of Monday's accident.

Those migrants were repatriated to Haiti on Monday.

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