Death toll in sloop tragedy climbs to 31
Authorities yesterday recovered yet another body from a newly discovered portion of a Haitian sloop that ran aground in waters off Abaco on Saturday.
Police confirmed the body was that of a woman.
Thirty-one bodies were recovered up to yesterday. There were 18 survivors.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) said that 83 people were on board the boat at the time of the incident, leaving 34 people unaccounted for.
There has been no word yet on whether a captain has been identified or if the survivors will be charged.
Since the beginning of the year, 300 Haitians were apprehended attempting to enter The Bahamas illegally, according to authorities.
“This is a problem we have been dealing with for decades,” Minister of National Security Marvin Dames noted.
“It goes way back. It all depends on what happens in Haiti, [which] will certainly determine….when [people] leave and the choices they make.”
Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
However, the past few years have seen the country descend further into an economic crisis. The gourde has been rapidly depreciating since 2015 and in January it reached a record low value compared to the U.S. dollar.
Haitian economist Eddy Labossière warned in January that the economic crisis could lead to political unrest in the country.
Local human rights activist, Fred Smith, QC, expressed concern over the conditions in Haiti that prompt its citizens to undertake such dangerous journeys to escape.
Smith said, “I really hope the government of Haiti and the United Nations can do something to help the poverty and despair and the economic distress that exists in Haiti.
“It really is a crying shame that a country that was one of the first democratic republics in the new world should be suffering such privations that their poor people are forced to flee, expose themselves to this kind of tragic danger.”
The Embassy of Haiti said yesterday that arrangements have been made to transport the bodies to Nassau where the embassy will organize a funeral.