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Six missing after boat caught fire near Long Island

Two Haitians, who swam ashore on Long Island, are being tested for COVID-19 after a cargo boat they were traveling on that was en route to Haiti caught fire off the coast of that island, Long Island MP Adrian Gibson said yesterday.

He said the tests were conducted at the police holding facility in Simms, Long Island.

“I am advised that the samples have been submitted for urgent testing and the results will be known early tomorrow,” Gibson said.

Six people remain missing following the incident. Gibson said a team of Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) officers are on the island assisting Long Island police.

“A three-person team of RBPF officers were dispatched to Long Island yesterday to assist police on the island with the investigation,” he said.

“We have been further assured that a thorough investigation is ongoing.”

There were reportedly nine people on the boat in total – six men and three women. Two were Bahamian and the others were Haitian.

The survivors claimed an explosion in the engine room caused the fire on the boat. They said a woman who was on the boat and had been ill died before the fire started, and they were separated from the other six passengers as they all tried to swim to shore.

Gibson said yesterday that another boat headed to Haiti also sank near the wreck of the first vessel.

“Per the Emergency Powers Order, three vessels, used for cargo transport, were given permission to leave the country to make their return trip to Haiti,” he said.

“Notably, the order does not restrict vessels from leaving the jurisdiction.

“Today, I spoke with Port Controller [Berne] Wright. On Monday past, three boats left the Potters Cay Dock.

“The first boat caught ablaze and was wrecked.

“I am advised that the second vessel started taking on water while en route to Haiti. This vessel purportedly sank one mile off of the wreck of the first vessel.

“I am told that the crew onboard were embarked onto the third vessel, which is now en route to Haiti.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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