Three people died and many more remain missing after a boat carrying African migrants capsized en route to the U.S. Virgin Islands this week, according to reports.
The horrifying incident unfolded on Tuesday morning in the eastern Caribbean Sea near the island of St. Kitts.
A stolen vessel with 32 passengers onboard set out from Antigua bound for St. Thomas when tragedy struck.
The boat “was found capsized 12 nautical miles south of St Kitts, near the east coast village of Conaree, around 40 nautical miles from Antigua,” the Antigua Observer reports.
St. Kitts authorities rescued 16 people and recovered 3 bodies, while 13 more remained missing, according to the latest available updates.
“We have confirmation that there are 16 people in St. Kitts in the custody of the authorities, two of whom are Antiguan, and the others are of African origin,” Col. Telbert Benjamin, Chief of Defense Staff of the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, said on Tuesday.
It is believed that all of the migrants are citizens of the African nation of Cameroon who arrived in Antigua as tourists with plans to eventually reach the United States, the Associated Press reports.
“My government has been making every effort to be helpful to these brothers and sisters from Africa who were marooned on Antigua, including by granting them residence and the opportunity to work,” said Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
Antigua has reportedly seen a “sudden influx” of African migrants in the months since the launch of a new airline connecting West Africa with Caribbean islands.
In November 2022, the first chartered flight between Antigua and Nigeria arrived, but was soon followed by a series of flights by another chartered airline which the government claims “took advantage” of the arrangement with Antigua Airways to transport Africans trying to escape conflict in Cameroon at hefty prices.
The opposition United Progressive Party has long called for an investigation into the debacle, especially as many Africans were initially without accommodations and with several claiming that Antigua was not their final destination.
The government previously tried to claim that any criticism of the Africans was “xenophobic,” alluding to the idea that opposition politicians would not be so outraged if the African travellers were Caucasian. – Antigua Observer
This article was originally published by InfoWars.com