Survivor is found clinging to overturned boat 60 hours after smuggling vessel carrying 40 people from the Bahamas capsized during storms off Florida coast
- A search and rescue mission was launched by the US Coast Guard after a boat smuggling 39 people capsized off the Florida coast on Saturday night
- The boat turned over about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park after it left the island of Bimini in the Bahamas earlier that evening
- A survivor found by a Good Samaritan on Tuesday said that the boat capsized due to severe weather conditions and no one was wearing life jackets
- The Coast Guard are continuing their search and are calling it a suspected human smuggling case
A sole survivor has been found after a boat smuggling 40 people capsized just off the Florida coast over the weekend.
The Coast Guard are still searching for other survivors after the boat, which left the island of Bimini in the Bahamas on Saturday night, overturned about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park.
They were alerted by a Good Samaritan who found the surviving passenger clinging to the upturned vessel approximately 60 hours after it capsized. The survivor told the Coast Guard that the boat turned over after encountering severe weather conditions.
No one on the vessel was reportedly wearing life jackets.
The Coast Guard have called it a suspected human smuggling case.
Officials said on Twitter that they are searching by both air and sea over a roughly 135-mile area extending from Bimini to the Fort Pierce Inlet.
The US Coast Guard launched a search and rescue mission for 39 people after a human smuggling boat capsized off the Florida coast on Saturday night
Crew members with the Coast Guard began their search after a Good Samaritan reported that one of the survivors was found clinging to the boat
The boat turned over about 45 miles from Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
Migrants have long used the islands of the Bahamas as a steppingstone to reach Florida and the United States.
They typically try to take advantage of breaks in the weather to make the crossing, but the vessels are often dangerously overloaded and prone to capsizing. There have been thousands of deaths over the years.
The Coast Guard patrols the waters around Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas.
For the most part, the migrants are from Haiti and Cuba but the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has reported apprehending migrants from other parts of the world, including from Colombia and Ecuador earlier this month.
On Friday, the Coast Guard found 88 Haitians in an overloaded sail freighter west of Great Inagua, Bahamas.
‘Navigating the Florida straits, Windward and Mona Passages … is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life,’ the Coast Guard said in a statement last weekend.
The Coast Guard are continuing their search and are calling it a suspected human smuggling case
Officials said on Twitter that they are searching by both air and sea over a roughly 135-mile area extending from Bimini to the Fort Pierce Inlet
The boat left from the island of Bimini in the Bahamas before the boat turned over on Saturday evening
Last July, the Coast Guard rescued 13 people after their boat capsized off of Key West as Tropical Storm Elsa approached.
The survivors said they had left Cuba with 22 people aboard. Nine went missing in the water.
Another boat smuggling 18 immigrants last May capsized off the California coast which killed one and injured 11 others.
The people on the vessel were reportedly wearing ‘flotation devices’, according to San Diego Lifeguard Chief Gartland.
‘We had a smuggling event this morning, we have coast guard on scene, customs and border control on scene,’ Gartland said.
‘They dropped people off in the water, then the vessel decided to come into the beach and capsized on the beach.’