NASSAU, The Bahamas – Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis announced that a multi-agency investigation was underway to determine the full circumstances surrounding a suspected human smuggling operation, which has resulted in the deaths of Haitian migrants.
“The Royal Bahamas Police Force and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force responded to reports of a boating incident seven miles off New Providence just after 1 a.m., on Sunday July 24th, 2022,” Prime Minister Davis said at the press briefing, held at his office.
“A rescue operation ensued immediately,” he added. “Rescue teams recovered, sadly, 17 bodies from the water: 15 females, one male and an infant. Twenty-five persons were rescued and were turned over to health officials for monitoring.” Also taking part in the briefing were Minister of Labour and Immigration the Hon. Keith Bell; Acting Minister of Health and Wellness and Attorney General, Senator the Hon. Ryan Pinder; Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander; Deputy Commander of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Captain Shondel Pinder; and Managing Director of the Public Hospitals Authority Aubynette Rolle.
Prime Minister Davis pointed out that, based on information received, to date, it was presumed that additional persons were missing.
“Search and recovery continue as we speak,” he said.
Prime Minister Davis noted that preliminary investigations suggested that a twin-engine speed boat left a docking facility off West Bay Street around 1 a.m. with approximately 60 people on board. It was believed that their final destination was Miami, Florida, he said.
It was believed that the vessel capsized in rough seas, he added.
“Law enforcement officials will update you on the criminal matter as well as other rescue and recovery efforts,” Prime Minister Davis said. “However, I would like to convey the condolences of my government and the people of The Bahamas to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy.”
Prime Minister Davis noted that his Government, from the time it came to office, had warned against “these treacherous voyages”. He also pointed out that his Government had increased surveillance on land and sea and intensified patrols. “We take this opportunity to strongly condemn the organization of smuggling operations, which risk human life and compromise our national security,” Prime Minister Davis said. “Those found to be involved will face prosecution.” “I understand the situation that many of these migrants face that would encourage them to take such great risk,” he added. “We, however, appeal to those considering making such a voyage, not to do so.”