(CMR) At least 17 people died, and several others are missing after a boat carrying dozens of Haitian migrants capsized off the coast of The Bahamas. These Haitians are among large groups attempting to flee gang violence and poverty in their country to reach the United States.
Reuters reported that rescue teams recovered the bodies of 17 people, including an infant, while 25 people were rescued. However, the boat was reportedly carrying up to 60 people,
Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said authorities believe the Haitians were on a speedboat heading for Miami when it capsized due to rough seas.
Two people from the Bahamas were taken into custody over the suspected human smuggling operation.
According to Reuters. The Bahamas is a frequent transit route for Haitians seeking to reach the United States. Dangerous sea voyages in rickety vessels have become increasingly common over the last year as Haitians flee poverty and rising gang violence.
Immigration Minister Keith Bell said survivors indicated that they paid between $3,000 and $8,000 for the voyage.
“We mourn lives lost of those seeking a better way of life. Those here with families and friends in Haiti, encourage your loved ones not to risk their lives,” Bell said.
In May, a boat carrying 842 Haitian migrants bound for the United States strayed off course and washed ashore along the north coast of Cuba instead. That same month, 11 people drowned when a vessel carrying Haitian migrants capsized near Puerto Rico, Reuters reported.