The Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force is reporting that a sloop laden with undocumented Haitian Migrants collided with the police vessel during interception on Monday night, November 29.
Even though many of the migrants fell into the water during the incident, the police said there has not been any reports of fatalities, due to quick action by police personnel with further assistance from the United States Coast Guard.
The police are not ruling out that some of the migrants swam to shore, as later, 16 males who were believed to have made it to shore and tried to make good their escape were apprehended by a joint team of Immigration, special Police Force and the TCI Regiment.
The sloop, the police suspected, was trying to make landfall within these shores.
According to reports, at about 9:40 p.m., the Coastal Radar Station Officers alerted the Police Control Room that they were tracking a target four miles off the coast of the North West Point area.
Marine Branch Officers, who the police said were already on patrol via M/V Sea Guardian were dispatched to the said location where they met a vessel nearing land.
“During an attempt to intercept the boat, the illegal vessel collided with M/V Sea Guardian. As a result, several irregular migrants fell into the water and were rescued while some escaped,” the report stated.
The report stated that of the 64 recovered, 41 were males and 23 females.
“With the assistance of the United States Coastguard, Marine Branch Officers rescued 64 adults, 41 males and 23 females. They were safely handed over to Immigration Officials,” the report noted.
The police further reported that 16 of the migrants, who had escaped and swam to shore, were quickly recaptured, and taken to the Detention Centre.
“Immigration Task Force, Police Officers from Response and Operations, and Regiment Officers who were also dispatched to the Northwest Point area apprehended 16 irregular migrants (adult males) who escaped on foot. They were taken to the Detention Centre.
The report further stated that local officials, as well as the United States Coast Guard, continue to search the area to ascertain whether any of those fell overboard might have died. The report stated also that local authorities continue to search land, Northwest Point, in particular, for escapees.
“There are no reports of fatalities. However, the search at sea for any loss of life is ongoing with the assistance of the United States Coastguard and a team from the Department of Environment and Coastal Resources.
“Police, Regiment and Task Force Officers continue the search in the Northwest Point and Blue Hills areas for persons who would have made it to land,” the police said.
The police stated that up to Tuesday, a total of 80 undocumented migrants were in Immigration custody.