A search is currently underway in a joint effort by local authorities after a total of 15 Haitian nationals were rescued and another 4 were found lifeless in waters near Man O War Cay at the entrance of Marsh Harbour, central Abaco earlier this morning.
After the discovery of the bodies in the water by local residents, the Police Fire and Rescue Services, along with Immigration and Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) personnel stationed in Abaco conducted a search near Fowl Cay and Man O War Cay. Officials were later joined in the search by an RBDF patrol vessel already in the area, Her Majesty’s Bahamian Ship (HMBS) Durward Knowles, and a United States Coast Guard helicopter.
The search was carried out near Fowl Cay and Man O War Cay, approximately 6 miles off the coast of mainland Abaco in the northern Bahamas. A total of 15 Haitian nationals were found on the cay and were taken aboard HMBS Durward Knowles under the command of Lieutenant Commander Omarv Saunders.
The Haitians were subsequently transported to the clinic in Marsh Harbour for evaluation, and handed over to Immigration and police officials for further investigation. The incident is believed to have occurred sometime before dawn this morning. A submerged vessel was later spotted by the USCG helicopter this afternoon.
A dive operation by RBDF divers aboard HMBS Durward Knowles, along with a local diver found an additional twelve bodies in a vessel on the seabed in reef-filled waters near Fowl Cay. The dive operation is still underway.
Thus far for the year, approximately 300 Haitians have been apprehended by the RBDF for illegal entry during 4 separate incidents. The Haitian nationals have all been charged before the courts and ordered repatriated to Haiti.The Royal Bahamas Defence Force continues to protect and safeguard the territorial waters of The Bahamas.
RBDF Photo shows: Map of Fowl Cay and Man O War Cay showing the approximate position of the sunken vessel.