At least 11 dead, 31 rescued after boat capsizes near Puerto Rico
A boat carrying passengers was swept away north of an uninhabited island in the vicinity of Puerto Rico. Eleven people had been confirmed dead while 31 others were rescued Thursday, authorities said. A U.S. Coast Guard spokesperson Ricardo Castrodad said that it was not immediately clear how many people were on the boat when it overturned. He stated that a “massive rescue effort” was ongoing.
” We’re trying to rescue as many people and find as many survivors, he stated.
At least eight Haitians were transported to the hospital. However, the nationalities of all the others on the boat were not immediately available.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter saw the boat overturned late Thursday morning.
” Without that, we wouldn’t have known about it until someone would have discovered any sign or received reports that their loved ones were missing,” Castrodad stated. “They found them so early that we were able coordinate a response. “
The boat was spotted more than 11 miles north of the uninhabited island of Desecheo, which is off Puerto Rico’s west coast.
The incident was the latest in a string of capsizings across the region as migrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic flee violence and poverty in their countries.
On Saturday, the U.S. Coast Guard and Dominican navy rescued 68 migrants in the Mona Passage, a treacherous area between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Castrodad reported that one woman believed to be from Haiti has died.
” These voyages are dangerous,” Castrodad stated. They are unsafe, they are overloaded… (and) there is no lifesaving equipment. It wouldn’t take much for any one of these vessels to capsize. “
In the fiscal year that ended September 30, the Coast Guard said it apprehended 1,527 Haitians, 838 Cubans and 742 people from the Dominican Republic in the region, which includes Florida and the Caribbean. Authorities claim that human smuggling boat trips have increased since then. In January, the Coast Guard searched for at least 38 people missing off Florida’s coast after a suspected human smuggling boat that had left the Bahamas capsized in a storm. One survivor was reported.
Hundreds of Haitians have landed in Florida in the last few months, after having swum ashore.
Haiti has been experiencing a surge of gang-related violence, which has resulted in the deaths of dozens of people, including children, and forced thousands of families to flee their homes. Eight Turkish citizens were robbed from a bus in the Dominican Republic on Sunday, and kidnappings have increased.
Kidnappings in the country of more than 11 million people have increased 180% and homicides are up 17% in the past year, according to the United Nations, which last week expressed concern over “the rapid deterioration of security and human rights” in Haiti.
Many have criticized the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden for deporting more than 20,000 Haitians in recent months given the country’s deepening turmoil.
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