Coast Guard rescues more than 180 people in South Florida
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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