Rescue crews recovered 20 bodies and three survivors off the coast of the Bahamas, the US Coast Guard said on Monday, after an apparent bid by migrants to flee their impoverished homelands.
The survivors, one Honduran and two Haitians, were found in the water screaming for help in darkness around 24km northwest of the Bahamas capital Nassau.
A crew member from the Lady in Red fishing boat heard cries in the water around 4.45am local time on Sunday and notified Bahamian authorities, triggering an air and sea operation, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
"There was never any boat or vessel located," said Barry Bena, first petty officer with the Coast Guard.
Boats regularly leave Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, carrying migrants in search of work and a better life in the Bahamas and reports of drownings are common.
Last May, scores of people drowned when a vessel that had left Haiti capsized in the Caribbean, the US Coast Guard said. (Reuters)
Twenty found dead off coast of Bahamas