At least 17 Haitians, believed to be undocumented immigrants, died Wednesday after their boat capsized off the coast of Turks and Caicos islands, north of Haiti.
“We have recovered the bodies of 17 people,” Xinhua quoted the island’s government as saying in a statement.
Another 32 Haitians were rescued from the accident site near Providenciales, one of the islands that form part of the British overseas territory, but were detained by the Turks and Caicos Royal Police as they were suspected of trying to illegally enter the territory, according to Neil Smith, a government spokesman.
Haitians fleeing poverty at home regularly attempt to cross the Caribbean Sea to reach the US mainland or Puerto Rico.
This month, some 100 undocumented Haitians have been intercepted in the waters off the Bahamas, and some 1,550 Haitians have been detained, according to Haiti’s government.