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Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2009       

Scores missing after Haitian boat capsizes in Atlantic

By Jane Sutton, Reuters Writer                                                                   

MIAMI, July 27 (Reuters) - A boat with between 160 and 200 Haitian migrants aboard capsized and sank off the Turks and Caicos islands on Monday, according to U.S. Coast Guard crews helping local authorities rescue survivors from the reefs.

Rescuers in small boats plucked about 40 survivors from the reefs and about two dozen more were still stranded on Monday evening, the Coast Guard said.

Some of the most gravely injured survivors were taken by helicopter to the Turks and Caicos capital of Providenciales for medical treatment. At least four bodies were located and scores were believed to be missing, based on passenger estimates of the number aboard.

The Turks and Caicos islands are a British territory in the Atlantic Ocean, between the southern Bahamas and the north coast of Haiti.

Haitian migrants often travel through the islands in dangerously crowded boats, hoping to escape their impoverished country and find work in the Bahamas or Florida. Last week, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted 124 Haitian migrants from what they called a "grossly overloaded" 60-foot (18-metre) boat about 150 miles (240 km) southwest of the shipwreck site. They were repatriated to Haiti on Monday.

(Reporting by Jane Sutton; editing by Mohammad Zargham) © Thomson Reuters 2009.
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