A boatload of Haitian migrants sank over the weekend near the Bahamas and killed nearly 30, authorities said.
The vessel went down near the Bahamas island of Abaco and at least 28 migrants aboard died. Officials said nearly 100 migrants were on board.
The U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a Twitter post it was told the Royal Bahamas Defense Force recovered the bodies at Fish Hawk Cay. The embassy said Bahamian authorities rescued 17 survivors.
“Really heartbreaking,” Haiti Foreign Minister Edmond Bocchit told the Miami Herald. “They are our brothers and sisters who are seeking a better life and then they are met with this horrible death. It is really sad.”
The Royal Bahamas Defense Force said in a statement the first bodies washed up near the Man O War Cay at the entrance of Marsh Harbor. Local authorities began an investigation and search extending six miles off the Abaco coast with the help of the U.S. Coast Guard.
Authorities said 12 more bodies were found in the vessel on the seabed. Bahamian officials think the vessel may have hit a reef, causing it to take on water and sink.
The defense force said about 300 Haitians have been detained for illegal entry during four separate incidents this year. They were charged and returned to Haiti.
Many Haitians are growing more desperate to escape economic turmoil on the island, where currency has been devalued and inflation is at 15 percent.