At least 38 Haitian migrants have reportedly been found dead after their boat sank off Point Maisi in the east coast of Cuba. Eighty-seven others were rescued by the coast guard.
The boat was spotted an estimated 100m off land by the Cuban officials, who recovered “the dead including 21 men and 17 women”, the Cuban civil defence department said in a statement on Sunday.
There were no details on possible cause of the accident or the destination of the boat, but search and rescue efforts were still under way, the report said.
Cuban officials said the Coast Guard and Red Cross continued searching for more survivors.
The rescued have been moved to an international migrants’ camp at Point Maisi, where they have been given assistance, the statement said.
Dilapidated and overcrowded boats carrying migrants from Haiti are often found in distress in the Caribbean Sea.
A similar tragedy occurred in July 2009 off the coast of Turks and Caicos Islands when a boat carrying dozens of Haitian migrants capsized and sank, forcing its passengers to jump overboard.
The US coast guard managed to rescue 118 of the migrants, but at least 15 were found dead and about 70 others remained missing.
Haiti is still recovering from a devastating 7.0-magnitude quake in January 2010 that leveled the capital, killed more than 225,000 people, and left one in seven people homeless in a nation that was already the poorest in the Americas.
The humanitarian situation has been further aggravated by a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 5,000 people, food insecurity affecting 4.5 million and an active hurricane season that destroyed homes and crops.