Leaving the Birmini Islands in the Bahamas, a boat carrying 40 people capsized on Saturday January 22, about 70 km east of Fort Pierce Inlet Park, Florida. One of the passengers was rescued but the 39 others are missing. The authorities suspect “trafficking in human beings”.
On Twitter, the Coast Guard said the boat had capsized due to bad weather. The alert was only given several days after the accident, Tuesday January 25 around 8 a.m. (1 p.m. GMT), when a sailor fished out one of the passengers, who managed to sit on the overturned boat.
The Bahamas as a land of transit
The survivor himself told the authorities that 39 other people were on board at the time of the capsizing. According to him, none of them were wearing life jackets. Several ships and planes were thus mobilized to find the missing, the search being carried out between Birmini, a small archipelago located east of Miami, and Fort Pierce, further north.
The Coast Guard suspects a “human smuggling” operation, aimed at transporting migrants off the coast of Florida. Indeed the Bahamas, located 80 km southeast of the coast of this American state, are close to Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti. The archipelago serves as a land of transit for migrants seeking to reach the United States, but also as a point of departure for Haitians who live there and attempt this dangerous crossing.
Last Friday, 32 people had already been rescued a few kilometers west of the Birmini Islands. On Twitter, the US Coast Guard warned: “Sailing at sea in overloaded boats in poor condition is extremely dangerous and can cause death”.