One body found, 38 still missing from capsized migrant boat off Florida - GulfToday

One body found, 38 still missing from capsized migrant boat off Florida


The USCG Cutter Ibis and USCG Cutter Skipjack are seen docked at the station, in Fort Pierce, Florida. Reuters

Gulf Today Report

Rescue crews recovered one body but hopes dimmed for 38 other people lost at sea over the weekend from a capsized boat off Florida's coast in an incident being treated as an ill-fated human smuggling attempt, the US Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

The search-and-recovery operation stretched through a second full day on Wednesday as the Coast Guard reported intercepting a separate sailing vessel off the Bahamas overloaded with 191 Haitian migrants believed to be headed for Florida.


39 people missing after boat capsizes off Florida

US rejects Russia demand on Ukraine, China calls for calm

Rescue crews searched late into the night on Tuesday for 39 people reported missing in the Atlantic off Florida by a man found clinging to a boat that capsized in what the US Coast Guard called a suspected human smuggling attempt gone awry.

The survivor told authorities that he had left the Bahamas' Bimini islands, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Miami, in a boat with 39 other people on Saturday night, the Coast Guard said in a statement posted online.

Members of the crew are seen onboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack in Fort Pierce, Florida. Reuters

The two incidents underscored a surge in migrants seeking passage to Florida in flimsy vessels through the Caribbean by way of the Bahamas, a known hub for sea-borne human smuggling.

The Coast Guard said in a Twitter post that its teams would "continue to search throughout the night for the missing people" whose boat was reported by a lone survivor to have overturned in rough seas on Sunday morning.

A Coast Guard spokesman, Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, acknowledged late Wednesday that chances of finding anyone else alive were dwindling but that officials would "reassess" the situation on Thursday morning.

The survivor, found clinging to the overturned vessel on Tuesday, told authorities after his rescue that he was one of 40 people aboard the boat when it left the Bahamas' Bimini islands, about 50 miles (80 km) east of Miami, on Saturday night, the Coast Guard said.

The vessel capsized the next morning about 45 miles (72 km) east of Fort Pierce Inlet, off Florida's Atlantic coast, about midway between Miami and Cape Canaveral. According to the survivor, nobody aboard had been wearing a life jacket, according to Reuters.

Their nationalities have not been released. But vessel crossings of Haitian migrants have grown more frequent as the Caribbean island nation faces worsening economic and political crises, as well as gang-related kidnappings.

"We do suspect that this is a case of human smuggling, as this event occurred in a normal route for human smuggling," Coast Guard Commander Jo-Ann Burdian told a Miami news conference.


Related articles