It was not clear if anyone was missing after the boat sank about seven miles off New Providence.
Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis said in a statement that 15 women, a man and an infant were among the dead. He said the rescued people were brought in for observation by health workers.
Davis said investigators found a twin-engine speedboat left the Bahamas around 1 a.m. carrying up to 60 people, apparently bound for Miami.
Davis said a criminal investigation into the alleged human smuggling has begun.
“I would like to extend my condolences from my government and the people of the Bahamas to the families of those who lost their lives in this tragedy,” Davis said. “My government has warned against these treacherous journeys since taking office.”
Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry said he sympathizes with the victims’ parents.
“This new drama is making the whole nation sad,” he said. “Once again I call for national reconciliation to resolve the issues that are driving our brothers, our sisters and our children far from our soil.”
A year after the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moses last July, gang violence has worsened and Haiti has slipped into a free fall that has crippled its economy. Attempts to form a coalition government have failed and efforts to hold general elections have stalled. The turmoil has prompted more and more people to flee the country of more than 11 million people in search of a better and safer life.
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 rescued off Puerto Rico. In another incident in January, a man was rescued and another confirmed dead after a boat carrying 40 migrants sank off Florida, with the missing never found.
Governments in the region, including the United States, have reported an increase in the number of Haitians detained trying to enter other countries.
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https://abc13.com/bahamas-boat-capsizes-migrants-dead-haitian/12071993/ 17 dead, including infants, after a boat carrying Haitian migrants sank off the Bahamas coast