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Search Resumes For Haitian Migrants Off Bahamas

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(Source: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

(Source: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

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South Florida Crime

NASSAU, Bahamas (CBSMiami/AP) — The search has resumed for at least 10 missing Haitians whose boat capsized as they headed to the U.S., according to a police official in the Bahamas.

Assistant Superintendent Loretta Mackey said the U.S. Coast Guard is assisting Bahamian authorities in the search off the island of Abaco in the northern part of the island chain about 180 miles east of Florida.

Mackey said Tuesday that members of the local Haitian community in Abaco are helping to identify the bodies of people retrieved from the water.

So far, 11 bodies have been recovered. Among the missing are several young children.

An estimated 28 Haitians were on the 25-foot boat when they set off Sunday. The boat apparently had engine trouble, took on water and then capsized.

Haitian migrants have been coming to the Bahamas for years, fleeing severe poverty in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. The migrants mostly try to reach the U.S., though some stay in the Bahamas to form a low-income workforce.

Abaco has a population of about 13,000 people. Hundreds of Haitians have been living in a couple of overcrowded shantytowns called Pigeon Pea and “The Mud” on Abaco, near Marsh Harbor, for years despite repeated government threats to evict them. The community is a mix of permanent residents, naturalized citizens and migrants.

The Bahamas is about 375 miles northeast of Haiti. Haitian migrants sneak into the Bahamas illegally by boat, paying roughly $500 for the perilous journey.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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