At least three people died and an undetermined number are missing after a boat carrying some 95 undocumented Dominicans to Puerto Rico sank a few miles off the beach at Matancita, the Dominican Civil Defense agency announced Sunday.
Minerva Santos, the civil defense director in the municipality of Nagua, where Matancita beach is located, told local reporters that her agency and other organizations were combing the area looking for survivors or other victims.
The dead were identified at Jose Augusto Polanco, 35; Edwin de la Cruz, 27; and Pedro Ramirez Sanchez, whose age was not known, and they came from Nagua and two other towns in the eastern and northeastern Dominican Republic, Santos said.
The bodies, at least one which showed blows to the head, were taken to the public hospital in Nagua, and dozens of people from the area went there seeking news about relatives who they knew had been aboard the vessel.
Some of the undocumented migrants who survived the shipwreck told reporters that there were 95 people on board the boat and it sank when it hit a reef.
The Dominican navy, which is searching the area along with emergency aid organizations, said that the boat was completely destroyed in the sinking.
Each year, thousands of Dominicans make the dangerous ocean journey trying to reach the coast of Puerto Rico seeking to improve their economic circumstances.