By SANCHESKA BROWN
Tribune Staff Reporter
OFFICIALS suspended their operations at sunset yesterday after recovering 11 bodies off Abaco and finding no other survivors from the Sunday night sinking of an overloaded Haitian boat off North Abaco.
Superintendent Noel Curry, Officer in Charge of the North Abaco District, said that after a long day of searching by sea and air there were no new developments.
"We didn't find anyone new, living or dead, so we will suspend the search until Wednesday. We recovered those 11 bodies which have been shipped to New Providence and are at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
"Of the five survivors, one person is assisting us in our investigations to find out exactly what happened," he said.
"We are also questioning local residents who we think may have been on board the vessel or may have known someone who was on the vessel.
"I cannot say at this time if anyone we have in custody was the boat captain as we are still attempting to establish a dialogue through interpreters."
Assistant Supt Loretta Mackey said the search and recovery efforts were a combination of the efforts of the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the U S Coast Guard, BASRA and concerned citizens.
She said: "People from the Haitian community are assisting us with identifying the bodies and trying to locate those who are still missing, but at this point we have only identified and confirmed five survivors."
According to reports the tragedy began around 5pm Sunday when the 25-foot boat "Glory Time" left Treasure Cay, Abaco, bound for Florida with 28 persons onboard.
Police say the boat capsized four hours later around 9pm, after experiencing engine problems, in waters off North Abaco in the area of Hawksbill Cay.
Fourteen men, five women, including a pregnant woman, and nine children were onboard.
According to sources, as the boat began to take on water, five people immediately jumped from the sinking vessel, swam for hours and followed the light until they got ashore at Treasure Cay.
When they got on land, they separated and police were alerted, nearly 24 hours after the boat had set sail.
The bodies of 11 persons were recovered from the sunken vessel, while 12 passengers remain unaccounted for and five swam to safety.
The crippled vessel was towed to Treasure Cay and the survivors were treated for dehydration. They are in police custody.
Active investigations are continuing.
In March of this year, 24 illegal immigrants and one Bahamian man were taken to Freeport after being rescued 20 miles off the Florida Coast when their vessel started to sink.
Five children, ranging in age from three to 11 years, were among those rescued by a passing freighter. Everyone in that group survived.