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13 Cameroonians still missing after boat sinks off Antigua

13 Cameroonians still missing after boat sinks off Antigua
Photo: Aerial view of the Cocos Hotel in Valley Church Bay, on the Caribbean...   -  
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Johnny Jno-Baptiste/AP2008


At least 14 people from Cameroon were rescued in eastern Caribbean waters early Tuesday after their boat capsized, but three people died and 13 others are missing, authorities in St. , Kitts said.

The group had left Antigua early Tuesday aboard a 32-passenger boat that was apparently en route to the US Virgin Islands when it sank near the island of St. defense of Saint Kitts and Nevis, during a press conference. 

He said the group had been staying on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, but left it a week ago to travel to Antigua.

“My government has done everything possible to help these brothers and sisters from Africa who have found themselves in Antigua, including granting them residence permits and the opportunity to work,” said Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

He said the Cameroonians had apparently arrived in Antigua as tourists but intended to emigrate to other countries. Mr Browne said his government had contacted the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Organization for Migration for advice on how to treat the survivors as refugees, adding that they were welcome in Antigua.

Cameroon has been rocked by conflict since English-speaking separatists in the central African country launched a rebellion in 2017. More than 3,300 people have died in the conflict, which has displaced more than 750,000 others, according to the United Nations.

The boat was stolen in Antigua, and 16 people on board were rescued, including two Antiguans, Comrie said. The nationality of those who died or disappeared is not known, authorities said.

Mr Browne said authorities would investigate what he called an "illegal and appalling affair", including the involvement of local residents. "The full facts surrounding today's calamity are not yet known," he said.

The boat sank about 60 km northwest of Antigua for unknown reasons, Colonel Telbert Benjamin, chief of the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, told the government news organization.

"The ship sank in relatively deep waters, and its recovery (...) may be a bit difficult," said Colonel Benjamin.