(News.com.au) AT least 15 people have drowned and nine are missing after a boat carrying Central American immigrants capsized off Mexico's Pacific coast.
"We have a total of two survivors rescued and 15 bodies recovered," the Mexican navy said.
Earlier reports said 24 people had drowned when their boat capsized amid heavy seas churned by tropical storm Kiko, off the coast of southern Mexico.
Rescue operations by navy ships and helicopters "continue in an effort to locate the nine people who so far have been reported missing", the navy said.
Since the rescued were Salvadorans and the ship was on a route used by immigrant traffickers to the US, officials believe most of the dead and missing were illegal immigrants from Central America, Oaxaca state authorities said in a separate statement.
None of the bodies have yet been identified, officials said.
A television report said a Guatemalan woman survived the ordeal. She said the boat set off from Guatemala on Tuesday with about 25 people on board and was wrecked in a storm but she survived by clinging to a barrel.
Residents from a coastal village found the bodies on the beach and picked up others in the ocean with their fishing boats.
The wreck occurred early yesterday morning near the Tehuantepec Isthmus on Mexico's Pacific coast.
Guatemala, its southeastern neighbour a few hundred kilometres away, is poverty stricken and plagued by political violence.
Remittances, mostly from Guatemalans in the US, are its largest source of foreign income.
Some 20 immigrants from Guatemala and El Salvador died in the same region in a similar accident a few years ago.
Tropical storm Kiko today was churning in a north-western direction, packing 200km/h winds, the US-based National Hurricane Centre said.
The storm is expected to turn toward the Pacific Ocean in the next few days.