MONROE COUNTY, Fla. – A rustic boat with 15 migrants on board overturned on Friday off the lower Florida Keys, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation officers found two dead.
The Coast Guard was searching for five overnight after rescuing eight Cuban migrants about 14 miles south of Sugarloaf Key. Six of the rescued required medical attention.
Reports of the capsized vessel reached the Coast Guard around 10 a.m. Friday. One person was rescued from the water by the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Mariner of the Seas.
The bodies of the two dead were with the Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the FWC and the Coast Guard.
“Our search continues for others that may have survived this tragic incident,” Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson said in a statement on Friday night.
The search continued into Saturday morning, officials said.
McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, also said the tragedy is an example of the many risks that Cuban migrants in overloaded makeshift vessels face while crossing The Florida Straits.
The Coast Guard received reports of capsized vessels and people in the water at about 10 a.m. U.S. Customs & Border Protection Air and Marine Operations also responded.
The deaths come as federal authorities face a surge of Cuban migrants. U.S. Border Patrol reported more than 130 migrants had been apprehended along the island chain in the last two days.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives off the Lower Keys,” McPherson said.
Amid an economic crisis in Cuba, U.S. federal agencies have been facing a sharp increase in migrants at sea and at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Aug. 4 report
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