Up to 30 Haitian migrants died yesterday in a doomed attempt to get out of their desperately poor homeland. Coast Guard officials say a "grossly overloaded, unbalanced, unseaworthy" sailboat carrying around 150 migrants hit a reef and capsized near Staniel Cay in the Bahamas, the AP reports. The Bahamas military and US Coast Guard found scores of survivors clinging to the hull. Some 20 bodies were recovered and the survivors—weak and dehydrated after up to nine days at sea with little food and water—were taken to a military base where they will be processed then sent back to Haiti.
It's not clear where the migrants' final destination was, but the route has long been used by smugglers trying to get people into the US. Immigrant smuggling from Haiti has soared over the last few years, and authorities believe hundreds drown every year—sometimes when they are forced out of boats dozens of yards from rocky shores and told to swim for it. "These smugglers are opportunists, they don’t care about anything, they don’t care about you, they are about making money by any means necessary," the chief of the Haitian Women of Miami political activist group tells NBC. "They are preying on desperate people who would risk anything, anything, in search of a better life somewhere else." (Read more Bahamas stories.)