Page last updated at 16:24 GMT, Monday, 21 April 2008 17:24 UK

Boat capsize kills 20 off Bahamas


The bodies of 20 people, believed to be Haitian migrants, have been found off the coast of the Bahamas after their boat capsized, the US Coast Guard says.

Three survivors were found in the sea some 24km (15 miles) from Nassau.

A search operation was launched on Sunday after fishermen heard people screaming for help, news reports said.

Every years, thousands of Haitians try to leave their impoverished nation, where recent riots over rising food and fuel prices have led to several deaths.

The US Coast Guard said a fishing crew alerted the Bahamian authorities after hearing cries in the sea early on Sunday.

The US and Bahamas launched a major search effort, deploying an airplane, helicopter and three boats to the area.

The three survivors said their boat was carrying 24 people when it capsized.

Faced with grinding poverty at home, some Haitians opt to board rickety boats to try to make the dangerous sea crossings to the US or to other Caribbean islands.

Reports of drownings are common. Last year, 61 people died when their boat capsized.

Most Haitians earn no more than $2 a day, and they have struggled to feed themselves as the prices of rice, beans and fruit have risen by 50% in recent months.

UN appeals to Haitian politicians
17 Apr 08 |  Americas
Calm returns to Haiti after riots
10 Apr 08 |  Americas
Hungry mob attacks Haiti palace
08 Apr 08 |  Americas
Q&A: Rising world food prices
04 Mar 08 |  Business
Country profile: Haiti
12 Apr 08 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific