At least 85 people are missing in open water off the Turks and Caicos islands after a boat with up to 200 Haitian migrants on board capsized, killing at least two, the US coast guard has said.
Authorities rescued 113 survivors from reefs about 3.7km southeast of West Caicos island after the boat sank late on Monday, Jennifer Johnson, a petty officer for the US coast guard, said, Aljazeera.net reports.
Local police renewed their search at dawn for the dozens of illegal migrants still unaccounted for in shark-infested waters after their rickety boat struck a reef.
"We were back out today at first light, combing the area trying to find any more survivors, but we are not hopeful," said Neil Hall, head of the islands' marine police.
"It will probably be just a case of picking up more dead bodies. The survivors are in pretty bad shape; worn out, dehydrated and confused."
Local police said ten bodies had been recovered and 70 people were unaccounted for, while the US Coast Guard put the death toll at nine and said 79 migrants were still missing, AFP reports.
The Coast Guard’s latest reports said the boat had hit a coral reef and sunk two and a half miles from the coast of West Caicos, the westernmost island in the Turks and Caicos archipelago. The boat, believed to be a shoddily built sail freighter between 30 and 50 feet long, had been headed north from Haiti, The New York Times reports.