Eleven folks die in migrant boat capsize off Puerto Rico


An unlawful voyage carrying undocumented immigrants close to Puerto Rico overturned on May 12, 2022

US Customs and Border Protection

Federal and state authorities in Puerto Rico continued trying to find survivors Friday morning after a ship carrying Haitian migrants capsized close to the U.S. territory’s western coast the day earlier than, leaving 11 girls lifeless.

“We continue to search in hopes of finding more survivors,” U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad informed the Miami Herald.

Thirty-eight survivors have been discovered up to now. Nearly all are Haitian, however there have been two Dominican nationals amongst these discovered within the water.

Eight Haitians have been taken to a hospital within the northwestern city of Aguadilla and the our bodies of the lifeless have been despatched to the Puerto Rico Forensic Sciences Institute.

María Conte Miller, the director of the institute, confirmed in a press launch Friday morning that each one the lifeless have been girls. DNA samples can be taken to substantiate their identities.

“We established communication with the Consulate of the Dominican Republic in Puerto Rico in an effort to locate the families of the deceased,” she stated.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection plane seen the capsized vessel and over 20 folks within the water close to midday Thursday about 11 miles from Desecheo Island, a wildlife refuge within the Mona Passage, the stretch of water between Puerto Rico and the island of Hispaniola. Most of the passengers appeared to not be sporting life jackets.

The search continued 24 hours later, with Customs and Border Protection, the U.S. Coast Guard and the Puerto Rico Police Department working collectively. The Coast Guard additionally dispatched a airplane and reinforcements from Clearwater, Florida. Customs is interviewing survivors to determine how many individuals have been on the boat earlier than it overturned.

Illegal voyages to Puerto Rico throughout the Mona Passage are sometimes performed on harmful, overloaded makeshift vessels. A sudden shift in weight, harmful climate and ocean situations, a broken-down engine and different elements can shortly flip one of many journeys lethal.

Castrodad informed the Herald that the capsized boat measures between 25 and 30 toes. While the precise variety of folks the boat was carrying earlier than it capsized stays unclear, it was carrying at the very least 49 folks between the already discovered survivors and the lifeless ⁠— a sign that the boat was overloaded.

“If we are searching it is because we understand that there are more people in the water,” stated Castrodad.

The capsize is the second to happen in lower than per week within the Mona Passage, after one other boat carrying undocumented migrants overturned on May 7. Authorities recovered an unresponsive Haitian girl from the water who couldn’t be revived.

“This can happen with any of the voyages that come daily or try to cross the Mona Passage. The risk of capsize continues to occur and the danger is present in each of these trips,” stated Castrodad.

Between Oct. 1 and March 31, the Coast Guard and its accomplice businesses had intercepted 1,308 undocumented immigrants within the Mona Passage and close to Puerto Rico, in keeping with company information. Most of the folks the Coast Guard got here throughout have been Dominican, 940, adopted by 298 Haitians. The mixed variety of Dominicans and Haitians the Coast Guard has up to now interdicted this 12 months is 158% greater than the earlier fiscal 12 months.

Meanwhile, Customs in Puerto Rico has apprehended 757 Haitians and 292 Dominicans since October — in comparison with 287 Haitians and 280 Dominicans apprehended 15 days proper earlier than the top of the earlier fiscal 12 months.

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Syra Ortiz Blanes covers immigration for the Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald. Previously, she was the Puerto Rico and Spanish Caribbean reporter for the Heralds by way of Report for America.

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