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Migrants endured lethal trip for weeks

Seventeen people trying to reach Puerto Rico died after their boat crashed on a coral reef off the Haiti coast, authorities said. More than 40 others were presumed dead Sunday.

Survivor Carlos Pinero told authorities about 60 Dominicans were aboard the sailboat when it left the southern Dominican coastal town of La Romana. It had apparently been adrift for 24 days in the Caribbean before Thursday's accident.

Sixteen bodies have washed ashore at Ile-a-Vache, a small Haitian island about 90 miles southwest of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

One of three known survivors died Friday night and a second survivor was in stable condition, said Karen Ramirez, a spokeswoman from the Dominican Embassy in Haiti.

There was no official search for survivors. The bodies, badly decomposed, were to be buried in a mass grave in Haiti, Ramirez said.

Each year, thousands of Dominicans seeking to reach the U.S. commonwealth attempt the 75-mile journey through rough waters. Those who make it ashore seldom notify authorities for fear of legal repercussions.

Dominican navy chief Luis Alberto Humeau Hidalgo said the navy has been cracking down on illegal voyages. Three boats, each carrying dozens of people, have been stopped in the past two weeks, El Siglo newspaper reported Sunday.

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