Bahamas seeks talks with Haiti after deadly migrant voyage

NASSAU, Bahamas,  (Reuters) – The Bahamas government yesterday call-ed for urgent talks with Haiti and other nations in a bid to discourage illegal migrant voyages like the one this week that ended with 30 Haitians believed to have died when their boat capsized.

“This is a human tragedy,” Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell said.

“The government is seeking to hold urgent talks with all the surrounding stakeholders and governments within the next few days with a view again to taking additional measures to discourage the smuggling of human beings through Bahamian waters.”

About 30 Haitian migrants are believed to have died when their overcrowded wooden sailboat ran aground in the Atlantic Ocean and capsized on Monday night near Staniel Cay, part of the Exuma group of islands in the central Bahamas.

U.S. and Bahamian crews rescued 110 survivors on Tuesday and one on Wednesday. Scores of passengers stood or sat on the hull of the 40-foot (12-metre) sailboat that lay on its side. Others climbed the mast or made it into life rafts dropped to them from Coast Guard planes and helicopters.

The latest rescue occurred shortly after the search for survivors resumed at daybreak on Wednesday, said Petty Officer Jon-Paul Rios, a Coast Guard spokesman in Miami.

“The survivor found a piece of driftwood and pretty much clinged to it until he got to a small island where he was able to flag down the U.S. Coast Guard flying overhead,” Rios said. “The helicopter landed on the island, picked him up and took him to safety.”

A Royal Bahamas Defense Force patrol boat took the survivors ashore in Nassau. Many were receiving medical treatment, Rios said. Six bodies were recovered, he said.

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