Saturday, December 31, 2011


(AFP) - By Sapa

"The number of victims has reached 45," Ambassador Jean Geneus said in
a telephone conference call from Havana.

"There was also about ten bodies that could not be recovered" because
they were trapped in underwater caves, he said.

The Cuban Coast Guard on Saturday discovered the half-sunken Haitian
boat just off Point Maisi on the eastern shore of the communist-ruled
island. They put the toll the following day at 38, and said that
another 87 people, including four children and seven women, had been

Geneus said it is difficult to know the exact number of people who had
been aboard the ship, but said it was "at least 160."

The survivors will be flown on Friday to Port-au-Prince, Geneus said.

Rusty, decrepit and overcrowded boats carrying migrants from Haiti are
often found in distress in the Caribbean Sea.

In 2007, a boat with at least 160 Haitians sank in the Caribbean Sea,
leaving 82 passengers dead. According to survivors, some of the
victims were eaten by sharks swarming the warm waters in the area.

Thousands of Haitian boat people arrived in the United States since
the early 1970s and settling in Miami, Florida.

But in 1981, Washington and Port-au-Prince reached an agreement under
which boats with Haitian migrants are interdicted at sea and their
passengers returned to Haiti.

Haiti is still recovering from a devastating 7.0-magnitude quake in
January 2010 that leveled the capital, killed more than 225 000
people, and left one in seven people homeless in a nation that was
already the poorest in the Americas.

The humanitarian situation has been further aggravated by a cholera
epidemic that has killed more than 5 000 people, food insecurity
affecting 4.5 million and an active hurricane season that destroyed
homes and crops.

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