Christmas calamity... Eighteen confirmed dead as vessel capsizes in TCI waters
The government of the Turks and Caicos Islands has confirmed that 18 people, suspected to be illegal migrants, died this morning at sea.
In a statement, the TCI government said, the incident happened around 3:30 this morning in Providenciales after a sloop believed to be carrying the suspected illegal immigrants was intercepted by the Marine Branch of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force.
"The vessel capsized as it was being towed into dock... to offload the suspects at South Dock at 5.17am," a TCI spokesperson said.
The Government said, 32 people were rescued and are now in custody at the Five Cays immigration detention and removal Centre.
It also says the 18 bodies recovered comprises two from the initial incident and 16 which were found with the assistance of divers.
"The search efforts are expanding in the area to locate any additional bodies," the TCI spokesperson said.
The Government has also reported that a US Coast Guard helicopter has been summoned to help the TCI authorities in locating any additional bodies.
In the meantime, the police are said to be searching for a few people who reached shore and fled the scene.
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