NASSAU, BAHAMAS — A joint search and rescue mission is underway for several Haitian and Jamaican migrants reportedly missing at sea after their boat began taking on water in the Berry Islands.
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force Search and Rescue (SAR) Unit and Squadron Departments, the Royal Bahamas Police Marine Division and the United States Coast Guard, reportedly rescued 12 people on Saturday.
“After receiving reports from Nicholls Town Police Station that a 27-ft vessel was taking on water nine miles south of Chub Cay in the Berry Islands, RBDF Patrol Craft P-127 Coxswained by Chief Petty Officer Onassis Ferguson, was dispatched to the area to investigate,” read a statement.
“The search and rescue unit arrived on scene at 5.20am, to find the vessel partially submerged with several individuals in the water clinging to the vessel. Twelve persons were subsequently rescued with ongoing search efforts to find the remaining persons.”
The rescued migrants were transported to HMBS Coral Harbour to be processed and checked by medical personnel before handover to police and immigration officials for further processing and investigation.
The statement continued: “The RBDF SAR Coordinator, Commander William Sturrup and the Royal Bahamas Defence Force generally wishes to advise boaters of their responsibility to observe boating safety requirements related to the possession of adequate safety, survival and communications equipment as per the Port Department regulations. Individuals are advised to adhere to the Emergency Orders as it pertains to maritime traffic and the movement of passengers.
“Similarly, they should pay strict attention to weather warnings, which are guided by the Bahamas Meteorological Department.”
The statement added: “Finally, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force also advises the general public to report instances of smuggling and trafficking in person trends to its Operations Department at 1-(242)826-3117 to effectively counter such transnational maritime threats.”