sailboat crammed with Haitian refugees seeking a better life in the United States capsized yesterday and 33 of the "boat people" drowned--including four women who had been "badly clobbered."
The Coast Guard said at least 30 other passengers survived by swimming about a mile to shore after the homemade 30-foot vessel was swamped in pounding seas.
Leonard Rowland of the Immigration and Naturalization Service said the captain, identified as Charles Joseph, and the three-man crew anchored the boat before dawn.
"The captain and crew swam ashore, telling everyone to stay put," because they would bring help, Rowland said. The ship capsized before they could return.
Some survivors said the craft began leaking badly and was capsized by a large wave. Others reported a sudden shift of passengers caused it to capsize.
The search for additional bodies by patrol boats and helicopters was suspended at midday along Hillsboro Mile, a "millionaire's row" of oceanfront homes, villas and condominiums north of Fort Lauderdale.
Broward County Deputy Gerald Meisenheimer, examining a row of 11 bodies dragged up onto the beach, said at least four women "have been badly clobbered in the head." All the wounds were located in the temple area, he said.
"I don't know if they received the injuries from being hit by the boat or debris in the surf or were hit on the head to make them leave the boat," Meisenheimer said. He said it would be up to the medical examiner to determine the cause of death.
"It's a human tragedy . . . the kind of thing that was waiting to happen," said Florida Gov. Bob Graham.