Turks and Caicos police end search for survivors of capsized boat

MIAMI Thu Dec 26, 2013 4:39pm EST

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MIAMI (Reuters) - Officials in the Turks and Caicos islands shifted their focus on Thursday from rescue efforts to determining what caused a boat packed with Haitian migrants to capsize, killing 17 people as the boat was being towed to port in the British Caribbean territory.

Police do not expect to find any more casualties from the Christmas Day accident that involved a boat carrying more than 50 immigrants from Haiti, government spokesman Neil Smith said in a tweet.

Authorities intercepted the sailboat around 3 a.m. EST (0800 GMT) Wednesday. The boat capsized two hours later as it was being towed to Providenciales, an island in the Turks and Caicos north of Haiti.

Officials were interviewing survivors on Thursday and an investigation is continuing, Smith said. Thirty-three people were pulled from the waters after the boat capsized.

Meanwhile, health officials in the small eastern Caribbean island of St. Lucia said flooding and landslides triggered by heavy rains have killed six people.

Among those killed was a police officer who died when a wall fell on him while he attempted to rescue several people from rising flood waters, police officials said.

Power outages and a lack of running water were reported in many parts of the island, a popular tourist destination that is home to some 174,000 people.

(Reporting by Kevin Gray in Miami and Sarah Peter in Castries City, St. Lucia; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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