15 dead, dozens missing after Haitian boat capsizes | world | Hindustan Times
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15 dead, dozens missing after Haitian boat capsizes

world Updated: Jul 29, 2009 07:28 IST

Authorities searched for up to 67 Haitian migrants off the Turks and Caicos Islands after their overloaded boat capsized, killing at least 15 people.

Local police renewed their search at dawn for the dozens of migrants still unaccounted for in shark-infested Atlantic waters after their rickety boat struck a reef late Monday, but had little hope of finding any more survivors.

Marine officers, assisted by the US Coast Guard, have so far rescued 118 passengers -- 15 of them on the nearby island of West Caicos -- after they managed to swim ashore.

"We were back out today at first light, combing the area trying to find any more survivors, but we are not hopeful," said Neil Hall, head of the islands' marine police.

"It will probably be just a case of picking up more dead bodies. The survivors are in pretty bad shape; worn out, dehydrated and confused."

The US Coast Guard said in a statement that 15 bodies had been located and "as many as 67 Haitian migrants missing."

As many as 200 people are believed to have crammed onto the wooden sailboat, which was likely headed for the Bahamas or the southeastern coast of the US with Haitians desperate to flee their homeland which is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.

A British-dependent island chain, Turks and Caicos are located about 160 kms north of Haiti.