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3 dead, 13 missing in Caribbean sinking; 14 Africans saved


SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — At least 14 people from the African nation of Cameroon were rescued Tuesday morning in eastern Caribbean waters after their boat capsized, but three people died and 13 others were missing, authorities said. St. Kitts.

The group had left Antigua early Tuesday aboard a boat carrying 32 passengers which was apparently en route to the US Virgin Islands when it sank near the island of St. Kitts, authorities said at a conference Press. They said the group had been staying on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, but left there a week ago for Antigua.

“My government has done everything possible to help these abandoned African brothers and sisters in Antigua, including granting them residency 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 migrate to other countries. Browne said his administration 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 to Antigua.

Cameroon has been rocked by conflict since the Central African country’s English-speaking separatists 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 Nations United.

The boat was stolen in Antigua and 16 people on board were rescued, including two Antiguans, officials said. The nationality of those who died or went missing was unknown, officials said.

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 kilometers northwest of Antigua for unknown reasons, Colonel Telbert Benjamin, chief of defense for the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, told state media.

“The vessel sank in relatively deep water, and so the recovery…might be a bit difficult,” Benjamin said.

This story has been corrected to show that the new conference (backslash) was held in St. Kitts

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