NASSAU, Bahamas - Teams from the US and the Bahamas searched the Atlantic yesterday for survivors after an overloaded boat carrying Haitian migrants capsized in rough seas, killing at least 11 people and leaving about 12 others missing.
The vessel headed for Florida capsized after its engines failed and it began taking on water off the northern Bahamian island of Abaco late Sunday, authorities and survivors said. Among those missing are several children. Eleven bodies have been recovered.
Authorities were trying to determine if one of five men who swam to safety was the organiser of the ill-fated smuggling venture, said Assistant Superintendent Loretta Mackey of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
Medius Previlon, an unemployed 46-year-old man of Haitian descent who has lived in the Bahamas for the last 22 years, told The Associated Press that he lost his 10-year-old son, Caleb. Previlon said that he'd saved money for his young son to board the doomed voyage that left Abaco. He'd hoped that Caleb would've been able to join his mother and three siblings in Miami.
"I did everything I could for him to leave the Bahamas," Previlon told The Associated Press by phone from Abaco, speaking in Haitian Creole. One survivor, a man of Bahamian-Haitian descent, told authorities that the boat's engines kept cutting off, according to National Security Minister Bernard Nottage.
"He reported that the seas were very rough, and the vessel began to take on water," Nottage said. "The vessel eventually capsized, and everyone began to scramble to save their lives.
He reported that he did his best to save other persons, but the sea was too rough, so he had to save his own life."
Nottage said the man told police he believed that nine children, five young women and 14 men were on board.
He also said that he remembers seeing six survivors who vanished once they reached land.