Migrant boat sinks off Bahamas, 17 dead

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A boat carrying Haitian migrants has capsized off the Bahamas and Bahamian security forces have recovered the bodies of 17 people and rescued 25 others.

It wasn't clear if there were any people missing after the boat sank on Sunday.

Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said in a statement that the dead included 15 women, one man and an infant. He said the people rescued were taken for observation by health workers.

Davis said investigators had determined that a twin-engine speed boat left the Bahamas about 1am carrying as many as 60 people, apparently bound for Miami.

Davis said a criminal investigation had begun into the suspected human smuggling operation.

"I would like to convey the condolences of my government and the people of the Bahamas to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy," Davis said.

"My government, from the time it came to office, has warned against these treacherous voyages."

Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he sympathised with the parents of the victims.

"This new drama saddens the whole nation," he said.

"I launch, once again, an appeal for national reconciliation in order to solve the problems that are driving away, far from our soil, our brothers, our sisters, our children."

Several sinkings involving migrants have occurred in the Caribbean this year, including one in May in which 11 people were confirmed dead and 38 were saved off Puerto Rico.

Another incident in January saw one man rescued and another confirmed dead after a boat carrying 40 migrants went down off Florida, with the missing never found.

Governments in the region, including the United States, have reported a surge in the number of Haitians detained trying to enter other countries.

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