At Least 20 Haitians Die as Ship Capsizes in the Bahamas

U.S. Coast Guard and Bahamian officials say 110 riders saved

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Updated on Nov. 27, 2013, 1:33 a.m. E.T.

At least 20 Haitian migrants have died after a wooden sloop ran aground and capsized in the Bahamas on Tuesday. The exact death toll is uncertain, but based on accounts from survivors, it could rise to about 30.

Despite rough seas and stormy weather, Bahamian authorities and the U.S. Coast Guard managed to save 110 Haitians clinging to the hull and mast of the overturned vessel by late Tuesday afternoon, the Associated Press (AP) reports.  Currently, authorities on the scene are working on recovering as many bodies as they can.

It is believed that the unseaworthy ship, overloaded with migrants, had been at sea for eight or nine days, with limited provisions and no life jackets. When the first rescue crews reached them, the distressed passengers were severely dehydrated.

Migrants from Haiti, Cuba and other Caribbean countries frequently sail through the Bahamas in overloaded and dangerous vessels in order to reach the United States.

“We are very concerned by the resurgence of these events and are going to take measures to discourage them while working to address the underlying circumstances that provoke people to take those risks,” Salim Succar, adviser of Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, told AP.