Dozens confirmed dead in Caribbean sinking

Hopes fade for further survivors from capsized boat carrying migrants from Dominican Republic to Puerto Rico.

    Seventy people were aboard the 38-foot vessel when it sank early on Saturday [Reuters]

    Authorities have said that at least 41 people are confirmed dead after a Dominican boat overloaded with migrants bound for Puerto Rico capsized.

    The bodies were found late on Tuesday and early on Wednesday, Luis Castro, the intelligence director of the Dominican Republic's navy said.

    He said crews expected to find more bodies.

    Seventy people were aboard the 38-foot vessel when it sank early on Saturday.

    The discoveries scuttled hopes that more people had survived the accident and gone into hiding.

    "You don't have to look for them anymore. The bodies float up by themselves and can be seen from far away,'' said Samuel Hernandez, leader of a small group of volunteers from Sabana del Mar, a coastal town northeast of Santo Domingo where rescue efforts are being co-ordinated.

    Crews rescued 13 people after the accident, among them David Cepeda Calcano, one of the trip's purported organisers.

    Castro said Cepeda could face charges once he is released from the hospital where he is being treated for severe burns.

    Survivors have told authorities that they swam as many as seven hours under a brutal sun until they were rescued at sea or reached shore.

    The overloaded boat capsized shortly after departing from the Dominican Republic for Puerto Rico, creating one of the Caribbean country's worst accidents of recent years.

    In July 2004, about 80 migrants died after their boat capsized, and 50 were declared missing in February 2010 after their boat disappeared.

    Thousands of poor Dominican migrants, along with many Haitian and Cuban migrants, try to cross the 260-kilometre Mona Passage separating the islands of Hispaniola and Puerto Rico, which shifting tidal currents make one of the most dangerous and unpredictable areas of ocean in the Caribbean.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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