2 Cuban migrants still missing off coast of Miami
11 other migrants rescued Monday off Sands Key
MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The U.S. Coast Guard is still looking for two men who traveled with a group of Cuban migrants who were rescued off of Sands Key on Monday after their makeshift boat began taking on water Sunday night.
On Tuesday morning, three of the migrants who swam to shore were at a South Florida charity where they were processed. Later on, they were sent to a hotel to get some rest.
The location of the hotel is being kept a secret, but a spokesman with the non-profit organization, Church World Service, said all three men are doing well considering the circumstances.
"What did they tell you about their journey?" asked Local 10 News reporter Michael Seiden.
"It was rough," said spokesman Francisco Figueroa. "I mean, nobody wants to go into one of those homemade rafts."
But that's exactly what the 13 Cuban migrants were on for eight days and eight nights.
Most of the men did not make it to shore on their own, but for the three who did, Church World Service is hoping to provide them with a better life, a job and a new home.
"Within a year, they're able to communicate with English-speaking people up in the states we are sending them to," said Figueroa. "They're part of society and they're working."
Figueroa said the men who do not have family in South Florida will likely be relocated to another state.
But Joel Moreno, 39, reunited with his father once he made it to shore, and told Local 10 News that this is his sixth time trying to make the journey across the Florida Straits.
Moreno said he hasn't seen his father in 35 years. He said he and the other 12 men began their journey two Sundays ago. He said their makeshift raft had an engine, but ran out of gas six hours into the trip.
To make matters worse, a storm turned them back and the boat later tipped over, spilling out all of the migrants' food and water.
Moreno said on the fourth day the men lost their sails and rowing equipment, and on Sunday the raft began falling apart so each migrant grabbed a piece to float on. He said they would look out for one another by waking each other up when they fell asleep.
Figueroa said he's seen a huge increase in the number of young Cubans, many in their 20s, who attempt to make the dangerous journey to the U.S. with their family and friends.
The Coast Guard also said the number of migrants has risen significantly in the past year. From October 2013 to October 2014, more than 3,900 Haitian migrants have taken the trip across the ocean, while more than 5,500 Cubans have attempted the trip.
Those who did not make it to shore are expected to be sent back to Cuba.
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