Dozens of Haitians have died in a desperate attempt to reach the Bahamas, after their crowded 40-foot sloop capsized. Deployed from Florida, Coast Guard crews scrambled to work with Bahamian forces to rescue more than 100 survivors Tuesday. The Coast Guard says the craft ran aground in the Bahamas' Exuma Cays.
At least 30 people have been reported dead since the boat, described as a sail freighter, flipped over last night, according to The Miami Herald. The newspaper notes that the central Bahamas area was under a small-craft advisory Monday — and that the death toll has risen steadily since the bodies of three Haitians were initially recovered.
Images of the harrowing scene at sea show dozens of people clinging to the hull and mast of the capsized vessel, which was nearly on its side in the ocean. From the Coast Guard air station in Clearwater, Fla., a helicopter brought a large raft to the area; food and other supplies were also dropped to the survivors before they were taken to safety.
"Unfortunately, we see these types of tragedies occur on a monthly basis," said Coast Guard Spokesman Chief Mike Doss. "Every year, we see hundreds of migrants needlessly lose their lives at sea, taking part in these dangerous and illegal voyages."
From The Herald:
"Some 1,550 Haitian migrants have been received or intercepted by authorities in the Bahamas this year, the government said, surpassing last year's total of 1,477.
"This is the second time in recent weeks that the Coast Guard has responded to a fatal boating incident involving Haitian migrants."
That last incident resulted in the deaths of four women.