SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A Turks and Caicos police boat collided with a vessel carrying migrants believed to be from Haiti, spilling scores of people into the sea and leaving at least seven dead, police said.
The Turks and Caicos police said they had recovered seven bodies and were searching Wednesday for others.
At least 64 migrants were rescued in the area off Providenciales island, according to a statement issued Tuesday.
Authorities said they don’t know how many migrants were aboard the vessel that collided with one of their own when officers tried to intercept it late Monday. Police said they detained 16 migrants who fled on foot after the collision.
“We were hoping for the best,” said acting Police Commissioner Kendall Grant. “Unfortunately, we are now dealing with a tragedy.”
The Turks and Caicos Islands are located between Haiti and the Bahamas and long have been a destination and smuggling route for Haitian migrants.
Haiti has been struggling with deepening political insecurity, a spike in gang-related violence and severe fuel shortages that have driven up prices in a country where 60% of the population earns less than $2 a day.