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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Dozens missing after Haitian boat capsized

Planes, boats search for 67 missing Haitians

(CNN) -- The search continued Tuesday for as many as 67 people missing after a boat carrying about 200 Haitians capsized, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted this crowded boat last week and repatriated its occupants to Haiti.

The U.S. Coast Guard intercepted this crowded boat last week and repatriated its occupants to Haiti.

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The boat overturned Monday off Turks and Caicos, a British territory about 550 miles southeast of Miami, Florida.

Searchers aboard boats and aircraft have rescued 118 passengers and found 15 bodies, said Petty Officer Jennifer Johnson, a Coast Guard spokeswoman, on Tuesday morning.

The Coast Guard described the boat's occupants as migrants from Haiti. The overcrowded vessel was believed to have set sail from the Haitian port of Cap Haitien, the Turks and Caicos Sun newspaper reported.

The search resumed at dawn Tuesday after being suspended because of darkness Monday night, Johnson said.

The Coast Guard is contributing one boat, the 210-foot cutter Valiant, and three aircraft to the search, Johnson said. The aircraft are a Falcon jet out of Miami, an HH-60 helicopter and a slow-flying C-130 cargo plane out of Clearwater, Florida. Video Watch Coast Guard rescue Haitians after boat capsizes »

"If the weather and conditions are right, [the C-130] can fly really low," Johnson said. "It makes a fantastic search aircraft."

Turks and Caicos authorities are using small boats in the search, she said.

About 70 people were plucked Monday from a reef near the island group, authorities said. Four other bodies were found, though it was unclear which authorities located them.

A nurse at Myrtle Rigby Hospital in the Turks and Caicos said that about 70 people were brought there, including four who had died.

Five people were admitted to the hospital, and the others had minor injuries, the nurse said.


The Coast Guard said it intercepted another "grossly overloaded" boat, with 124 Haitians aboard, late last week in the same region. Those migrants were returned to Cap Haitien on Monday.

Overloaded vessels can quickly lose stability and capsize, sending migrants into the water, a Coast Guard release said

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