28 Haitian migrants die when vessel sinks off coast of Bahamas

More than 300 migrants intercepted by Bahamian authorities this year

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor, Terrell Forney - Reporter

MIAMI - Twenty-eight Haitian migrants were killed when their boat sank early Saturday off the coast of the Bahamas, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said Sunday.

According to the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the boat sank near Fowl Cay and Man O War Cay, about 6 miles off the coast of the island of Abaco in the northern Bahamas. On Saturday, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force found 13 people dead and rescued 15 people. 

By Sunday, the death toll had increased to 28 and rescuers found two more migrants alive in the water. The U.S. Coast Guard assisted with the search and located the submerged vessel.

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force said at least 300 Haitian migrants have been intercepted since the beginning of the year. The migrants have been returned to Haiti, officials said.

"No journey is worth risking lives -- please urge families and communities. Illegal migrant and smuggling operations are dangerous and frequently end in tragedy," the U.S. Embassy said in a tweet.

Back in Miami's Little Haiti neighborhood, Pastor Yourly Jules led the Sunday night service at Notre Dame D'Haiti Catholic Church, where parishioners here have a growing worry over the names of those found in the water. 

"They could be my family -- could be anybody's family, so I don't know which one -- where they come from," said Mary Dorval, who was attending the prayer service. 

Which part of Haiti that the ill-fated boat departed from is crucial. It's possible they left from Port-de-Paix on Haiti's north coast. 

Jules said life in Haiti has gone from bad to worse recently. The value of the country's currency has dropped sharply, putting essential staples, like rice, out of reach for many Haitians. 

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