Boat Carrying Haitian Migrants Sinks—15 Dead, Says US Coast Guard

April 1, 2019 Updated: April 2, 2019

At least 15 people died after a boat carrying migrants from Haiti sank near the Turks and Caicos Islands on March 31, said U.S. Coast Guard officials.

The search for additional survivors was suspended by the Coast Guard late on March 31 after the boat capsized, the agency said on Twitter. It added a photo of what appeared to be a capsized boat in clear blue waters.

“Reports indicate 14 survivors, 15 deceased, 4 unaccounted for,” it tweeted.

The Coast Guard joined the Royal Turks and Caicos police after they received reports of a capsized vessels at around 8 p.m. local time.

“Today, March 31st, 2019 we have seen the heroic efforts of my Police Officers, Immigration Officials, Emergency Medical Response teams and private citizens, after a boat carrying suspected illegal migrants capsized off West Caicos,” Acting Turks and Caicos Police Commissioner Trevor Botting said in a statement on Facebook.

He added it “has indeed been a difficult day, and I would like to express thanks and appreciation to all of you that responded. Your service today is invaluable and appreciated.”

Botting said the search and rescue operation is ongoing.

BULLETIN 2 RESCUERS CONTINUE RECOVERY FOLLOWING CASIZED BOAT As of 5:34 p.m., four more bodies have been retrieved…

Posted by Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force on Sunday, March 31, 2019

“We cannot tell when it will end as it will be determined by the number of recoveries we make over the next day or so,” he said, adding that the search was suspended until daybreak on April 1.

In February, at least 28 Haitians were killed when a boat sank near the Bahamas, reported the Miami Herald.


Posted by Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force on Sunday, March 31, 2019

As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, warned people not to risk their lives in the sea voyage.

“No journey is worth risking lives,” the embassy tweeted at the time.

In a statement, the Royal Bahamas Defense Force said officials have apprehended about 300 Haitians for illegal entry in 2019.

Haitian migrants return to Chile
Haitians disembark from a Chilean Air Force plane as they return from Chile, upon their arrival to the International Airport of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov. 7, 2018. (Reuters/Andres Martinez Casares)

And dozens of Haitian migrants from a dangerously overloaded freighter were rescued by Miami Coast Guard officials last year.

Miami Coast Guard officials said their helicopter crew spotted the overcrowded, 40-foot sail freighter near Cuba. Officials deployed a cutter from Key West to rescue the migrants, saying the vessel was not equipped to carry its passengers and was perilously overcrowded, according to The Associated Press.

Coast Guard officials said it could have been a life-threatening situation for the 86 migrants onboard. Once safely on the Coast Guard cutter, the migrants were given food, water, and medical treatment.

Rubio Goes to Haiti

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) met with the Haitian president and members of parliament in late March 30 and discussed the formation of a new Cabinet after Jean Henry Ceant was ousted as prime minister.

Senator Marco Rubio introduces Republican candidate for Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis at a rally in Orlando
Senator Marco Rubio introduces Republican candidate for Governor of Florida Ron DeSantis at a rally in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 5, 2018. (Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

It came amid nationwide protests and political turmoil in Haiti, Reuters reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.