A boat from Antigua capsized off the coast of St. Kitts, leaving one person dead, while 15 others were rescued from the choppy waters. Fourteen of these 16 persons are Africans.
Reports say the St. Kitts Coast Guard is now engaged in a desperate search for the other 16 persons who had been onboard.
It is said that the 30-foot vessel encountered difficulty some 12 miles east of St. Kitts, and a mayday alert went out sometime on Monday night, March 27.
Reports say it was a passing luxury sailboat that initially spotted the distressed vessel and lent immediate help to those persons holding onto the hull to keep afloat and battling the rough waves.
Other vessels have since joined the St. Kitts Coast Guard in the search for survivors, reports add. Coast Guard officials here have confirmed the development and say they are monitoring the unfortunate situation.
While some reports say the capsized vessel set out from Urlings, other sources tell REAL News that the boat – alleged to be The Osprey – is usually docked at the West Bus Station Fisheries Wharf and is owned by a national of the Dominican Republic.
There is speculation that the vessel – which carries two outboard engines – was on its way to St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands and was precariously overcrowded.
Late last year, hundreds of West Africans were brought to Antigua on chartered flights. Most were expecting to move on to other destinations and, ultimately, get to the United States.
However, this did not work out according to plan, and many residents were forced to conclude that Antigua had been used as a transshipment point in a migrant-trafficking ring.
Some of the West Africans left the country and actually made it to other Caribbean islands – only to be returned here.
Meanwhile, Sean Bird, the United Progressive Party (UPP) caretaker for St. John’s Rural East, has expressed grief about the development and is hoping that no more lives will be lost.
But Bird says he is not surprised that the West Africans would have made such a dangerous attempt to leave Antigua, since they desperately want to get to the United States for better opportunities.
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