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US Coast Guard Suspends Search for Nearly 50 Haitian Migrants Near Dominican Republic

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for nearly 50 Haitian migrants who have been missing since their homemade boat caught fire and capsized near the Dominican Republic.

Authorities say that crews Friday called off the search that began with the rescue this week of two dehydrated and severely burned migrants. They were among 56 people who were traveling from Cap-Haitien, Haiti to Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos when the fire started and the boat sank. Five bodies were recovered.

Officials say they do not know when the blaze occurred, when the migrants set sail or what caused the fire.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Thousands of Haitians risk their lives by taking to the seas on flimsy boats to escape poverty and frequent political turmoil. Nearly all are intercepted while trying to make their way toward the United States, then repatriated.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.