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At least 17 people died after the boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized in the Bahamas According to Reuters

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© Reuters. Survivors of a capsized migrant boat aboard the capsized vessel off New Providence Island, Bahamas July 24, 2022. Royal Bahamas Defense Force / Handout via REUTERS

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By Jasper Ward

NASSAU (Reuters) – 17 people have died after a boat carrying dozens of Haitian migrants capsized off the coast of the Bahamas, authorities said on Sunday, as many Haitians tried to reach the United States to escape from gang violence and poverty at home.

Bahamian Prime Minister Philip Davis said during a press conference. Davis said authorities believe they were on a speedboat bound for Miami.

“It is believed that the ship capsized in rough seas,” he said.

Up to 60 people may have been on board the plane and many are believed to be missing, Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said.

Bahamian authorities say two people have been arrested, both from the Bahamas, on suspicion of people smuggling. All those on board survived or died or those still missing are believed to be migrants from Haiti.

Bahamas police said the boat capsized about 7 miles (11 km) off New Providence Island.

The Bahamas is a frequent transit route for Haitians who want to come to the United States. Dangerous sea voyages on rickety ships have become increasingly common over the past year as Haitians flee poverty and increased gang violence.

Immigration Minister Keith Bell said survivors indicated they paid between $3,000 and $8,000 for the trip.

“We mourn those who are searching for a better way of life,” Bell said. “Those here with family and friends in Haiti, please encourage your loved ones not to risk their lives.”

In May, a boat carrying 842 Haitian migrants to the United States went astray and washed up on the northern coast of Cuba.

That same month, 11 people drowned when a boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized near Puerto Rico.

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