Boat carrying Cuban migrants overturns, killing 2 people and leaving up to 10 missing

KEY WEST, Florida – Two people were killed and up to 10 others were missing Thursday after a boat carrying Cuban migrants overturned the night before off Key West, Florida, officials said. said eight of the ship’s passengers had been rescued from the water.

A coast guard was patrolling the area, about 16 miles southwest of Key West, when he encountered some of the boat’s passengers in the water around 1 p.m. Thursday, Petty Officer Jose Hernandez, a spokesperson said. from the Coast Guard, in an interview on Thursday Night.

The type of boat involved was not immediately clear.

“There was no ship,” said Master Hernandez. “People were found in the water.”

Monroe County Sheriff Rick Ramsay said in a text message Thursday evening that 20 Cubans were originally on board the sinking boat. He said information was still limited and detectives responded to help with the investigation.

The Coast Guard said Thursday a search for survivors would continue overnight and were still collecting details, including what caused the vessel to overturn.

“We are looking for 10 possible people still in the water,” said Master Hernandez.

Survivors said they left Puerto de Mariel, Cuba, on Sunday and capsized on Wednesday evening, the coast guard said. On Thursday evening, they remained aboard a Coast Guard cutter, where they will receive food, water and basic medical care, officials said.

Two cutters and several small boats from the Key West Coast Guard station were part of the search effort, along with three military helicopters, officials said.

Just 90 miles from Cuba, the Florida Keys are a frequent crossing point for Cubans trying to reach the United States. But Coast Guard officials have warned of the dangers of making the trip.

In another episode on Saturday, someone called authorities to alert them to nearly a dozen people aboard a raft off Marathon, about an hour north of Key West. When the Coast Guard reached the ship, they discovered that one of the Cubans on board was already dead. Her son told officials the raft overturned at the start of the trip and they lost their food, water and medicine.

“The dangers of traveling through the Straits of Florida cannot be overstated,” Chief Warrant Officer Matt James, commander of the Islamorada station, said in a statement earlier this week. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the man who died of the loss of critical drugs for a pre-existing condition reported during the capsize.”

The US Coast Guard has captured nearly 300 Cubans at sea since the start of the fiscal year in October, the agency said. This was the biggest increase since 2017. Last year, only 49 Cubans were caught migrating to the United States.

The number of Cubans increased under the Obama administration. In the last year of Mr. Obama’s presidency, 5,396 Cubans were banned.

On Monday, 21 Cubans arrested were returned to Cuba by the coast guard. Earlier Eight Cubans were repatriated on Thursday after being spotted aboard a rustic green raft.

“Migrant ban patrols help save lives by deterring dangerous activities by illegal migrants and removing migrants from dangerous environments,” said Captain Michael Gesele, Chief of Police District Seven of the Coast Guard on Thursday. , in a press release referring to the previous episode.

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