Nov 22, 2022 - World

Coast Guard rescues more than 180 people in South Florida

Photo: U.S. Coast Guard

The U.S. Coast Guard said Tuesday that it has rescued more than 180 people from an overloaded vessel that eventually hit a sandbar in the Florida Keys.

The big picture: This is the second rescue of such a vessel in recent days. The first one, which capsized over the weekend, led to at least five deaths, the Coast Guard said.

Driving the news: On Monday, the Coast Guard said it began rescuing people from an "overloaded sailing vessel" after receiving a tip from a Good Samaritan earlier in the day.

  • "Rescue crews are battling 6-10 ft seas, 25 mph winds to safely remove the people from the vessel," the Coast Guard said in a tweet, which included photos of small children.
  • By evening, the vessel had "hit a sandbar south of Whale Harbor," the Coast Guard said. "There are reports of people in the water and our land partners are on scene."
  • U.S. Border Patrol said 18 people "who were trapped in dangerous ocean currents while attempting to swim to shore" were saved as part of "a multi-agency rescue operation."

What they're saying: Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar identified the 18 people as Haitian migrants, but the Coast Guard did not identify those it rescued.

  • "The weather has been a very big challenge to us all day," Petty Officer Nicole Groll, a spokesperson for the Coast Guard Southeast 7th District, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel on Monday. "We’ve been doing everything humanly possible to ensure we safely get people off that vessel."
  • "We don’t know if people are injured. We don’t know if people can swim. That’s the downside of these ventures," Groll said.

Flashback: On Monday, the Coast Guard announced it was suspending the search for any remaining survivors from the homemade vessel that capsized over the weekend "during a failed migration venture."

  • Crews recovered at least five bodies and rescued another nine people, the Coast Guard said.
  • "Very rarely do we see people on these illegal voyages wear safety equipment," Cmdr. Richard Armstrong, deputy sector commander for sector Key West, said in a statement. "And that certainly saved their lives in treacherous sea conditions."

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