11 Dead, 31 Rescued After Suspected Migrant Boat Capsizes Near Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A ship loaded with suspected migrants capsized north of an uninhabited island close to Puerto Rico and 11 individuals had been confirmed lifeless whereas 31 others had been rescued Thursday, authorities mentioned.

It wasn’t instantly clear how many individuals had been aboard the boat when it turned over, mentioned U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad. He mentioned a “mass rescue effort” was nonetheless underway.

“We’re looking to rescue as many people as we can and find as many survivors as we can,” he mentioned.

At the least eight Haitians had been taken to the hospital, though the nationalities of all these aboard the boat weren’t instantly identified.

The incident was the most recent in a string of capsizings throughout the area as migrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic flee violence and poverty of their international locations.

A U.S. Customs and Border Safety helicopter noticed the overturned boat late Thursday morning.

“If not for that, we would not have known about this until someone would have found any sign or received reports from people that their loved ones are missing,” Castrodad mentioned. “They found them early enough that we were able to coordinate a response.”

The boat was noticed greater than 11 miles (18 kilometers) north of the uninhabited island of Desecheo, which is off Puerto Rico’s west coast. The U.S. Coast Guard mentioned these rescued had been 20 males and 11 ladies.

The capsizing comes lower than every week after the U.S. Coast Guard and Dominican navy on Saturday rescued 68 migrants within the Mona Passage, a treacherous space between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. One girl believed to be from Haiti died, Castrodad mentioned.

“These voyages are dangerous,” Castrodad mentioned. “They’re unsafe, they are grossly overloaded … (and) no lifesaving equipment. It wouldn’t really take much for any of these vessels to capsize.”

From October 2021 to March, 571 Haitians and 252 individuals from the Dominican Republic had been detained in waters round Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, in line with U.S. Customs and Border Safety. The vast majority of these Haitians, 348 of them, landed in Puerto Rico’s uninhabited Mona Island and had been rescued.

In fiscal yr 2021, 310 Haitians and 354 Dominicans had been detained, in contrast with the 22 Haitians and 313 Dominicans apprehended in fiscal yr 2020.

In the meantime, the U.S. Coast Guard mentioned that within the fiscal yr that ended Sept. 30, it apprehended 1,527 Haitians, 838 Cubans and 742 individuals from the Dominican Republic within the area, which incorporates Florida and the Caribbean.

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