"We have recovered the bodies of 17 people," media quoted the island's government as saying in a statement.

Another 32 Haitians were rescued from the accident site near Providenciales, one of the islands that form part of the British overseas territory, but were detained by the Turks and Caicos Royal Police as they were suspected of trying to illegally enter the territory, said Neil Smith, a government spokesman.

Haitians regularly attempt to cross the Caribbean Sea to reach US mainland or Puerto Rico.

In December 2013, some 100 undocumented Haitians have been intercepted in the waters off the Bahamas, and some 1,550 Haitians have been detained, according to Haiti's government.


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