Bahamas security forces have recovered bodies of at least 17 Haitian migrants were found off the Bahamas, Prime Minister Philip Davis said on Sunday.
He said that the rescuers believed that the migrants had probably died after their vessel capsized in the rough seas amid a “suspected human smuggling operation.”
The bodies of 15 females, a male and an infant were found in the water after the Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force responded to reports of a boating incident seven miles off New Providence just after 1 am (local time), CNN quoted Davis as saying.
While 25 people were rescued and more people are presumed to be missing. Davis said that search and rescue operations are ongoing.
He said, “Preliminary investigations suggest that a twin-engine speed boat left a docking facility off West Bay Street around 1 am with approximately 60 people on board. It is believed that their final destination was Miami, Florida.
“I would like to convey the condolences of my government and the people of The Bahamas to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy.
“We take this opportunity to strongly condemn the organization of smuggling operations which risk human life and compromise our national security. Those found to be involved will face prosecution. I understand the situation that many of these migrants face that would encourage them to take such great risk. We however appeal to those considering making such a voyage, not to.”
According to Bahamas Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander, about 50 to 60 people were believed to be onboard in the 20-ft speedboat.
Two Bahamian men, who were also survivors, were bring questioned in police custody as they were known to police “for various offenses,” he added.