UPDATED 5:05 PM PT – Sunday, July 24, 2022
At least 17 people were killed after a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsizes in the Bahamas. Authorities said the rescue teams pulled another 25 people out of the water on Sunday, adding that 60 were believed to be on board and more are presumed missing. The bodies of 15 females, a male and an infant were found in the water after the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force responded to reports.
#BreakingNews @USCG @MiamiDadePD @MDFRChief @MyFWC @CBPAMO are on scene with a grounded sailing vessel off #BocaChita. Currently, people are on the vessel safe & not in the water. We are asking mariners to stay clear of the area for safety concerns. Stay tuned for updates. #SAR pic.twitter.com/l3llL0Z22X
— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) July 21, 2022
The Bahamas Police believe the migrants were headed for Miami, Florida on an alleged human-smuggling speed boat. Local authorities said two Bahamian men were taken into custody over the suspected smuggling operation. This comes a few days after the US Coast Guard and Miami-Dade authorities intercepted a sailboat carrying more than 150 Haitian migrants. Bahamas Prime Minister Philip Davis said his government has always warned against dangerous voyages and that they have increased surveillance on land and sea and intensified patrols.
“Law enforcement officials will update you on the criminal matter as well as other rescue and recovery efforts,” said Davis. “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.”
Two Bahamian men were among the survivors and have been questioned in police custody. The men were known to police “for various offenses,” he said. Immigration Minister Keith Bell said 20 people had been taken to a detention center and were being interviewed.
“We take this opportunity to strongly condemn the organization of smuggling operations which risk human life and compromise our national security,” the prime minister voiced. “Those found to be involved will face prosecution. I understand the situation that many of these migrants face that would encourage them to take such great risk. We however appeal to those considering making such a voyage, not to.”
Haiti has suffered from violent instability for years. After former President Jovenel Moïse was assassinated in July of last year. His successor Ariel Henry vowed to improve security. Nevertheless, kidnappings and gang violence continue to plague the Caribbean nation. Haiti has been in turmoil for years, but the violence escalated dramatically since Moïse’s assassination. His killing was followed in August by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that killed thousands.