At Least 17 Dead as Migrants’ Sloop Capsizes in Turks and Caicos

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Above: TCI

By the Caribbean Journal staff

At least 17 people have been confirmed dead following the capsize of a boat carrying illegal migrants near South Dock in Providenciales, Turks and Caicos.

According to a statement from the Governor’s office, the boat was intercepted by the Marine Branch of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force around 3:21 AM Wednesday morning.

As it was being towed into dock, it capsized near South Dock, authorities said.

So far, 33 people have been confirmed as rescued, with at least 17 confirmed dead. Several reached shore and fled the scene as well, according to the Govenor’s office.

A US Coast Guard helicopter has been scrambled to help authorities look for additional bodies.

The migrants have been confirmed to have been from Haiti, with 33 so far set to be returned to Haiti.

If so, it would be the latest in a series of tragic incidents involving illegal migrants from Haiti in the area, in what is increasingly becoming a regional problem.

Increased migration from Haiti in recent years has led to inflamed tensions between the governments of Turks and Caicos and Haiti, although their relationship warmed after high-level bilateral talks in Port-au-Prince in August.

“The Turks and Caicos Islands Governor, Premier and Ministers are aware of the situation,” the Governor’s office said in a statement.

Updated Dec. 25, 2013 at 5:24 PM.