In a tragedy at sea, at least 28 Haitians are dead in the Bahamas

At least 28 Haitians drowned in waters near the island of Abaco in the Bahamas after the vessel carrying them sank, possibly hitting a reef.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force said they were alerted about the tragedy on Saturday after bodies were found floating in the water. So far, there are 17 survivors, and the search-and-rescue operation remains ongoing, Royal Bahamas Defense Force spokesman Jonathan Rolle told the Miami Herald.

Haiti’s Foreign Minister Edmond Bocchit called the Bahamas boat tragedy, “really heartbreaking.”

“They are our brothers and sisters who are seeking a better life and then they are met with this horrible death. It is really sad,” he said. He added that other government officials were equally saddened.

In a tweet, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said Sunday, “no journey is worth risking lives — please urge families and communities. Illegal migrant & smuggling operations are dangerous and frequently end in tragedy.”

A video circulating on social media of some of the rescued migrants show one of the migrants saying that the boat left from Port-de-Paix in northwest Haiti with 45 people on board. The video’s authenticity was verified by a Defense Force commodore.

But Bahamas immigration officials said there may have been as many as 87 aboard.

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Jacqueline Charles has reported on Haiti and the English-speaking Caribbean for the Miami Herald for over a decade. A Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, she was awarded a 2018 Maria Moors Cabot Prize — the most prestigious award for coverage of the Americas.