At least 17 people, including two children, died off the Haitian coast when a sailing boat sank between Tortue island and the fishing port of Saint-Louis-du-Nord.
The boat, “Ancelita”, was carrying island residents who were returning from a municipal market in Saint Louis du Nord, the head of the Haitian Maritime and Navigation Service Eric Prevost Junior told the media.
Nine people have been rescued. It is believed that 30 were on board when the boat sank.
Prevost Junior said the boat sank because of high winds, overcrowding and the vessel was not given permission to sail.
“In this area, trips are made in bad conditions,” he said.
Haitian President Jovenel Moise sent condolences through Twitter.
“I learned with great sorrow the news of the shipwreck of a boat off the island of La Tortue. The authorities are mobilizing to find the missing bodies and possible survivors. I share the pain of the relatives and friends affected by this tragedy,” he said.
The US Embassy in Haiti said the American Coast Guard sent a cutter and helicopter to search waters for survivors and expressed condolences for the tragedy.
“We send our deepest condolences to the families and friends who lost loved ones in a boat that capsized near La Tortue on August 19,” it said on Twitter. “We encourage Haitian families to avoid such treacherous vessels.”
Shipwrecks occur frequently in Haiti. Agencies in charge of controlling the sector fail to inspect conditions of the ships, which are usually of poor quality and travel is made with crowded boats.
Haiti has been struggling to recover from a 2010 earthquake that killed more than 316,000 people and injured 350,000 others, according to its government.
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