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Boat Sinks Off Florida, 9 Migrants Dead

U.S. Coast Guard officials say they are still searching for survivors after a boat carrying Haitian migrants overturned and sank off the coast of Florida.

Authorities say the migrants had been floating in the water for 10 hours before they were spotted Wednesday. Only some of them were wearing life jackets.

Sixteen people were pulled out of the water alive, while officials say they found nine others dead - six women, two men and a baby girl. The officials say they do not know how many people were on the boat, though they estimate about 30.

The boat sank early Wednesday about 25 kilometers from land, off Boynton Beach. The Coast Guard says it appeared to be part of a smuggling operation trying to illegally enter the United States from the Bahamas.

It was not clear what caused the boat to overturn.

A U.S. Coast Guard official described the situation as "tragic," saying smugglers are interested only in money and take advantage of people who want to come to the United States, with no regard for their safety or welfare.

Every year, thousands of people try to leave Haiti by boat in search of a better life in nearby islands or the United States.

Haiti is the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. The Coast Guard says that since October, it has stopped 1,377 Haitians, up from 972 during the same period last year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.