Coast Guard to call off search for 34 missing migrants after boat capsized off Florida coast

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Coast Guard to call off search for 34 missing migrants after boat capsized off Florida coast

The Coast Guard will end its active search Thursday for the remaining 34 migrants lost at sea off the coast of Florida after recovering the bodies of five people on board.

A boat of 40 migrants left the Bahamian island of Bimini on Saturday night and capsized in the turbulent Gulf Stream waters of the Atlantic Ocean. A lone man was found holding onto the capsized boat Tuesday after fighting for his life in open waters for two days.

“We don’t think it is likely that anyone else has survived,” Coast Guard Capt. Jo-Ann F. Burdian said at a news conference Thursday. The search will end at sunset Thursday unless the agency receives new evidence.

Burdian said the guard isn’t closing the case, but is ceasing the deployment of active resources to find the remaining 34 people.

None of the 40 passengers were wearing lifejackets, said authorities, who found the boat 100 miles north of where it originally capsized. 

US Coast Guard Cutter Ibis' crew searching for people missing from a capsized boat off the coast of Florida on Jan. 25, 2022.
US Coast Guard cutter Ibis’ crew searching for people missing from a capsized boat off the coast of Florida on Jan. 25, 2022.
US Coast Guard via AP

The survivor was spotted by a hero tugboat operator, who spied the man sitting atop the 25-foot hull that was mostly underwater.

The Coast Guard searched an area of the Florida Straits the size of Massachusetts, Burdian said Thursday.

The Bahamas is often a stopping point for migrants from Haiti and Cuba trying to make the journey via boat to Florida, but the exact nationalities of those lost at sea in this incident have not been released. Authorities also don’t appear to know the names and ages of those on board.

Crew members of the Coast Guard cutter William Flores get ready to go on patrol, Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022, in Miami Beach, Fla.
The US Coast Guard will end its search for survivors at sunset Thursday.
AP Photo/Marta Lavandier

The name of the lone survivor has not been shared with the public, and authorities said earlier that he is in stable condition after being brought to the hospital for dehydration and sun exposure. 

Burdain said the office is treating the incident as a case of “human smuggling” and the survivor has been interviewed by Homeland Security. 

The incident comes after 32 migrants were rescued from a capsized vessel off Bimini last Friday.

At least 557 Cuban migrants have been found at sea by the Coast Guard since October, the agency said.

With Post wires

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