Since a criminal investigation has been opened in Guadeloupe, more information is coming to hand about the boat that capsized and sank last Tuesday, March 28, with African migrants and Antiguan nationals on board.
The incident occurred “off the coast of St. Kitts and Nevis,” but the circumstances of the accident are “still poorly determined,” an AFP report says.
It is known that three people died, 15 were rescued alive, and just over a dozen are still missing and presumed dead.
The boat’s “owner is a French national residing in Guadeloupe,” the report states; and it was carrying 32 passengers on the ill-fated trip, allegedly to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands.
The AFP report confirms that the vessel was also registered in Guadeloupe and that public prosecutor Patrick Desjardins of Pointe-à-Pitre has commenced an investigation for manslaughter following the tragic incident.
A provisional report has already been compiled in Guadeloupe, and the investigation is based on death by deliberate breach of a security obligation; involuntary injuries by deliberate breach of a security obligation; and trafficking in human beings in an organized gang, the prosecutor said.
According to the AFP report, “The investigation was jointly entrusted to the research section of the Guadeloupe gendarmerie and the maritime gendarmerie.”
Agencies in other islands, including St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda, are also actively involved in the investigations, since the boat reportedly departed from a port in Antigua.
Reportedly, the Martinique branch of CROSS Antilles-Guyane has also been vigorously involved since last Tuesday in search operations with the authorities of St. Kitts and Nevis.
However, the search for survivors was called off on Friday, March 31, by the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) out of Martinique.
A resident of St. John’s tells REAL News that “God would have it so that the boat went down off St. Kitts and not in Antiguan waters.
“Because if it sank here, you know we would never get to hear any of the details,” she says. “Everything would have been under the carpet.”