The U.S. Coast Guard has called off its search for nearly 70 Haitian migrants who were on board an overcrowded boat that capsized earlier this week off the Turks and Caicos islands.

The Coast Guard made the announcement in a statement issued Wednesday.  Coast Guard vessels and aircraft had assisted in the 52-hour search.

As many as 200 people were believed to be on board the wooden vessel when it struck a reef, shattered and sank in the Atlantic north of Haiti.

Nearly 120 people were rescued, while at least 15 others were killed.

Many of the survivors were reported to be suffering from dehydration.

Haitian migrants often take to the seas in overcrowded boats for the perilous journey from their country, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, to seek a better life on nearby islands or in the United States.

The Turks and Caicos islands are north of Hispaniola, the island comprising Haiti and the Dominican Republic. 

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.