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187 people rescued southwest of Turks and Caicos Islands, officials say

Multiple agencies including Coast Guard involved in rescue

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MIAMI – Authorities rescued 187 people about 17 miles southwest of Turks and Caicos Islands on Saturday, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officials said a helicopter crew forward deployed to Great Inagua, Bahamas, spotted a 30-foot boat carrying 187 people.

Watchstanders and the Coast Guard liaison officer for the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands coordinated a response with the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Turks and Caicos Islands Police and the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca crew, officials said.

The Seneca crew and a Her Majesty's Bahamian Ship crew arrived and embarked the 187 people between the two ships, officials said. The Seneca crew took 86 people and the Bahamian ship took 101 people.

Officials said the Seneca crew destroyed the 30-foot boat because it posed a hazard to navigation.

"Safety at sea is our No. 1 priority, and we are always grateful to work with our international partner agencies to save lives," Lt. Cmdr. Justin Matejka said. "This case involved 187 people on a 30-foot boat with no safety or communication equipment. That's over 100 lives traveling in an unpredictable, unforgiving environment with no safety net. Without our intervention, many people could've been injured or worse."

The Seneca crew took the survivors to the Turks and Caicos Islands Police Marine Unit, officials said. No injuries were reported.