A boat carrying passengers was swept away northwards from 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 known how many were on the boat at the time it overturned. Ricardo Castrodad said that a massive rescue operation was ongoing.
” We’re trying to save as many people and as many survivors we can,” he stated.
At least eight Haitians were transported to the hospital. However, the nationalities of everyone aboard the boat are not yet known.
A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter saw the boat overturned late Thursday morning.
” Without that we wouldn’t have discovered about it until someone found signs or got reports that loved ones were missing,” Castrodad stated. They found them so early that they were able coordinate an immediate 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 have been from Haiti, died.
” These voyages are risky,” Castrodad stated. They are unsafe and overloaded. These vessels could easily 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 identified.
Hundreds of Haitians arrived in Florida in the last few months, after they swam ashore.
Haiti has been experiencing a rise in violence from gangs that has resulted in the deaths of dozens, as well as children and families fleeing their homes. Eight Turkish nationals were robbed from a bus in Dominican Republic on Sunday.
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.