By Neil Hartnell
NASSAU (Reuters) - More than 150 illegal Haitian migrants are in custody in the Bahamas, after their sail boat ran aground on Andros islands during stormy seas, officials said on Sunday.
Jack Thompson, the Bahamas' director of immigration, said in a statement that the Haitians had been detained and were being held in a warehouse and a Roman Catholic Church center on Andros.
The Bahamian authorities said they believe up to 200 migrants may have been aboard the boat, which ran aground on Saturday.
The U.S. Coast Guard has provided a helicopter to transport Bahamian officials to Mangrove Cay, Andros, to assist in a search and rescue operation.
Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas and there is a long and tragic history of people drowning while trying to escape its crushing poverty in rickety boats headed for the United States.
The Haitians were apprehended on Saturday near Mangrove Cay, seven days after leaving Cap Haitien in Haiti, officials said.
The survivors have already been examined by doctors and found to be in good health, apart from several suffering from dehydration.
Thompson said the authorities believed some migrants may have drowned, but search and rescue efforts were being hampered by tropical storm Isaac's heavy winds and rough seas.
"We are strategizing on how to proceed. Once the weather subsides, we stand ready to take the appropriate action," he said.
(Editing by David Adams and Christopher Wilson)