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3 dead, at least 15 missing after capsizing off Dominican coast

By Catherine E. Shoichet and Diulka Perez, CNN
updated 3:51 PM EST, Mon December 5, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Authorities believe at least 15 people are missing
  • NEW: High tide caused by bad weather force water rescuers to stop searching
  • "It is truly a scene of anguish," a local lawmaker says

(CNN) -- Only three bodies have been found near the site where a boat carrying about 100 migrants capsized off the Dominican Republic's coast, authorities said Monday.

Authorities believe at least 15 people are missing, Civil Defense officials said. Others survived, officials said, but have not spoken publicly for fear of repercussions from authorities.

The boat was headed for Puerto Rico when it capsized early Sunday morning, authorities said.

Search teams have been looking for the missing near the northern coastal city of Nagua, Rep. Jose Luis Cosme said, while anxious family members await word about their loved ones.

"It is truly a scene of anguish," said Cosme, who was on the coast when the three bodies were found Sunday.

Water rescuers stopped searching Monday as tides rose due to bad weather. Helicopters surveyed the waters from above.

Forecasters had predicted stormy weather before the boat set sail.

In the past, boats packed with immigrants were a common sight near Nagua, which is about 200 miles from Puerto Rico.

"We are in a strategic location. Before, there were frequent trips, but that had dropped off," Cosme said. "This surprises me."

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