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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Haiti Refugees Drown

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haitian military police fired on an 18-meter sailboat filled with refugees trying to flee the island, setting off a panic in which as many as 40 people may have drowned, eyewitnesses told reporters Thursday. The eyewitnesses said a small Haitian police outboard launch carrying three officers approached the ship early Wednesday at Nan L'Etat, a secluded town off Haiti's southern coast. The police surprised the refugees, who were drawn from about 400 people waiting in surrounding coves and hillsides for passage to the United States. Eyewitnesses said the police fired three shots into the air, provoking a panic among the boat people, who pushed each other into the water. The sail's boom broke free, knocking others into the sea.