At least 17 individuals lost their lives after a boat believed to be having dozens of migrants from Haiti capsized off the Bahamas while on the way to Florida on Sunday.
A 30-foot boat had almost 60 people. It sank in the waters off the New Providence Island at about 1 a.m. local time, Bahamian officials mentioned during a news briefing.
Relevant authorities detained two Bahamians who were thrown from the boat. They face manslaughter and human smuggling charges, officials reported. They were two of the 25 people that the rescuers discovered were latching onto the sinking boat.
Others on the boat were believed to be Haitian, said Captain Shonedel Pinder, the deputy commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. About 15 continued to be missing as reported on Sunday.
Of the 17 people who died, one was male while 16 were female, reported Aubynette Rolle, the MD of the Bahamas’ Public Hospitals Authority. There was a child around the age of 4 or 5 years.
A rise in the number of Haitian migrants over the recent years has attempted to travel by sea to Florida and Puerto Rico. Immigration lawyers and researchers have to say that the migrants could be fleeing the ongoing economic and political turmoil in Haiti.
A year after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse in July 2021, gang violence worsened. Haiti has gone into a freefall that has witnessed the fall of the economy.
Trials to form a coalition government have faltered. Similarly, efforts to hold general elections have also stalled. The ongoing turmoil has led a growing number of individuals to flee Haiti, which comprises more than 11 million in the search for a safer and better life.
Several sinking cases involving migrants have taken place in the Caribbean waters this year, including one in May 2022, in which 11 individuals were declared dead and 38 were rescued from Puerto Rico.
One more incident in January 2022 saw a man being rescued and another being confirmed dead after a boat that had 40 migrants reportedly sank off Florida. The missing were never found.
Governments in the region, including the US, have reported a rise in the number of Haitians detained when attempting to enter other nations.
References: France24, DailyTimes