On Aug. 19, a small, crowded sailboat named “Ancelia” sunk on a short voyage between Saint Louis du Nord, on Haiti’s northern coast, and Ile de la Tortue (Tortuga Island), about ten miles away.
According to Haiti’s Interior Ministry, 14 people died in the tragedy: one man, 11 women, and two children. There are still four missing persons (three women and one man). There were 31 survivors (26 passengers and 5 crew members).
The Haitian government is giving 50,000 gourdes ($446 US) to the victims’ families, and 10,000 gourdes ($89 US) to each survivor.
Every day, dozens of small hand-made wooden sail boats transport people and goods between the 23-mile-long island and the towns of St. Louis du Nord and Port-de-Paix on Haiti’s northwest coast. Since the 1980s, Haiti’s northwest, and Ile de la Tortue in particular, have been the principal departure point for small sailboats bearing refugees northward towards the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and Florida.