(CMR) Thirty-nine people are feared dead after a boat they were traveling on from the Bahamas reportedly capsized on Saturday night off the Florida coast.
US Coast Guard officials were alerted on Tuesday morning after fishermen spotted a man clinging to the hull of a boat 72km from the city of Fort Pierce, BBC reported
The survivor said the group had embarked from Bimini, Bahamas, on Saturday night and hit foul weather. The survivor who has not been identified said none of the passengers were wearing life vests,
US officials believe the boat may have been part of a “human smuggling venture.”
The search, roughly 220km wide from Bimini to Fort Pierce, was led by the Miami Coast Guard sector using ships and aircraft. Up to Tuesday afternoon, no further survivors had been found.
The island of Bimini in the Bahamas is only 130km from Miami.
On Friday, the Coast Guard reported that they had found 88 Haitians in an overloaded ship west of the Bahamas.
“Navigating the Florida Straits, Windward and Mona Passages in overloaded and less than seaworthy passages is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life,” the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“The Coast Guard and our partner agencies will continue to stop these voyages. You will be interdicted and should expect to be returned and repatriated to your country of origin.”