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On Sunday 26 July or Monday 27 July 2009, a wooden boat carrying 200 Haitian immigrants struck a reef off the Turks and Caicos Islands. 15 were killed and 65 remain missing. 122 people, 22 of whom were women, were rescued by the United States Coast Guard. Winds of up to 37 km/h (23mph) and sea waves up to 1.8m (6 feet) in height stood in the way of the rescue operation. The injured are being treated in Caribbean hospitals. The survivors will be repatriated to Haiti.


Lt Cdr Matthew Moorlag of the US Coast Guard said, “Unfortunately many people lose their lives trying to reach the United States illegally, anywhere of 100 or more per year.” These immigrants pay up to US$500 per spot on overcrowded fishing boats. They travel with little food or water, and lack the supplies necessary to ensure survival in the event of a shipwreck.


In May 2007, a similar shipwreck occurred, when a boat carrying 160 passengers capsized. Survivors of this incident report watching fellow passengers being eaten by sharks.

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