The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat in Georgetown on Monday said the group was “extremely saddened” over the deaths of 17 Haitians who perished after the boat carrying them capsized off the coast of the Bahamas on Sunday.
“This latest disaster brings to the fore once again the desperate situation in Haiti and the reprehensible nature of the actions of those who are taking advantage of people trying to escape,” the statement noted.
CARICOM said that it will continue to work with Haiti and the international community to bring peace, security, and development to the sister nation.
“CARICOM looks forward to the apprehension and bringing to justice of those who prey on the hopes and aspirations of vulnerable persons,” the statement said.
The community extended its condolences to the relatives of those who lost their lives and to the Government and People of Haiti.
It was reported that 25 of those in the boat were rescued.
Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis in a statement on Sunday said that the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force responded to the incident seven miles off New Providence, The Bahamas, and a rescue operation ensued.
“Rescue teams recovered 17, sadly, 17 bodies from the water. 25 persons were rescued and were turned over to health officials for monitoring,” Davis said, noting that 15 women, one man, and one infant were dead.
He said that based on information received, it is presumed that additional persons are missing, and therefore search and recovery efforts are underway.
Davis highlighted that preliminary investigations suggest that a twin-engine speedboat left a docking facility off West Bay Street, The Bahamas around 1:00hrs with approximately 60 persons.
“It is believed that their final destination was Miami, Florida,” Davis said.
He noted that a multi-agency investigation is underway to determine the full circumstances surrounding the suspected human smuggling operation.