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NASSAU, Bahamas (CBSMiami/AP) — A tragic situation unfolded in Bahamian waters over the weekend.

Bahamian officials say a boat smuggling Haitian migrants has sunk, leaving 28 people dead and 17 others in police custody.

Chief Petty Officer Jonathan Rolle of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force says residents of the island of Abaco found four bodies and at least 15 people in coastal waters Saturday.

Bahamian forces and the U.S. Coast Guard then launched a search operation that by Sunday afternoon had found at least 28 bodies in and around a ship sunk off the Bahamas. The total rescued also rose to 17.

The devastating event brought over a hundred people through the doors of the Notre Dame D’Haiti Catholic Church for an evening ceremony.

Many were broken down, but lifted up in prayer.

Father Yury Jules said his people were looking for a better life.

“We pray that in the future the situation of Haitian might be changed,” he said.

Rolle says the ship appeared to be an American vessel engaged in people-smuggling, but no further information was immediately available.

The Royal Bahamas Defense Force says it has apprehended at least 300 Haitians in four smuggling incidents so far this year.

(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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