The United States Coast Guard was deployed off the coast of Florida early this morning in search for 39 people who have been missing for several days following a boat that was en route to the Bahamas capsizing.
A member of the public alerted the Coast Guard early on Tuesday after saving a man holding onto the boat 45 miles east of Fort Pierce, as reported by the maritime security agency’s Twitter account.
The rescued man said he had been part of a group of 39 and that the group had left the island of Bimini in the Bahamas on Saturday night. He told rescuers that their boat had capsized in severe weather and that no one was wearing a life jacket.
The US Coast Guard has associated this case with human smuggling. Again through Twitter, the Coast Guard informed the people of the search and posted a picture of the rescued man.
#BREAKING @USCG rescue crews are currently searching for 39 people after their boat reportedly capsized on Saturday night approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet. #SAR— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) January 25, 2022
More updates to follow. pic.twitter.com/iGCJ7KRjXY
Coast Guard officials said they were searching for an area of over 135-miles by air and sea from Bimini to the Fort Pierce Inlet.
Currently, the Coast Guard monitors waters around the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas – routes often used by migrants trying to enter the United States. The Coast Guard stops illegal migrants navigating US waters.
Sunday saw the agency tweet –
“Crews continue to patrol waters around #Haiti, #PuertoRico and #Bahamas to ensure the safety of life at sea. Navigating the seas in overloaded & less than seaworthy vessels is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life.”
#DontTakeToTheSea @USCG crews continue to patrol waters around #Haiti, #PuertoRico and #Bahamas to ensure the safety of life at sea. Navigating the seas in overloaded & less than seaworthy vessels is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life #WindwardPassage #MonaPassage pic.twitter.com/pBPROT2wIR— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) January 23, 2022
Incidents such as interdicted or overturned vessels, many overburden with people seeking refuge in the United States are not uncommon in the waters off the coast of Florida.
Just last Friday, the Coast Guard discovered an overloaded sail freighter with 88 Haitians west of Great Inagua, Bahamas.
The US Coast Guard had released a statement last weekend saying –
“Navigating the Florida straits, Windward and Mona Passages … is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life,”
Last July, 13 people were rescued from a capsized vessel off of Key West just before Tropical Storm Elsa battered the area.
Survivors of this recuse said they had left Cuba with 22 people aboard the boat, of which nine went missing.
At least 557 Cuban migrants have been rescued or picked up at sea by the US Coast Guard since October last, with an additional 7,400 Cubans who were interdicted over the previous 5 years.
Haitian migrant vessel crossings have become more frequent as the Island nation deals with political and economic crises however, with them, so has the increase in gang-related kidnappings. The agency has stopped over 150 Haitian nationals this year.