Coast Guard suspends migrant search off Florida


The Coast Guard said it suspended the rescue operation at dusk on Thursday after announcing earlier that afternoon that it had found four more bodies in the search for dozens of lost migrants. marine area off the coast of Florida.

Department of Homeland Security Investigations officials said they are actively investigating the incident as a people-smuggling operation.

Authorities have now found a total of five bodies, with 34 people missing five days after the ship capsized en route to Florida from Bimini, a chain of islands in the Bahamas about 55 miles (88 kilometers) from Miami. eastward.

Coast Guard Captain Jo-Ann F. Burdian said the previous decision to suspend the search was not an easy decision.

“We have saturated the area many times,” she told a news conference. “We had good vision. … We have overflowed the ship many times. … That means we don’t think it’s likely that anyone else has survived.”

Miami’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations has opened an investigation, saying the migrants’ journey must have been part of a human-smuggling operation. Under federal law, a smuggler found guilty of causing death can be executed.

“The goal of this investigation is to identify, arrest, and prosecute any criminal or criminal organization that organized, facilitated or otherwise profited from this doomsday venture,” said HSI Miami Special Agent. blame Anthony Salisbury said.

Salisbury declined to provide any information about the nationalities of the boat’s passengers but said investigators considered the sole survivor “a victim right now,” not a suspect. Salisbury has appealed to the public for tips to help determine who organized the crossing.

“Please help us bring the criminals who prey and victimize vulnerable migrant communities to justice,” he said. “We don’t want someone to do this again. … This is dangerous stuff. ”

The sole survivor was found hanging from the 25-foot (7-meter) ship about 40 miles (64 km) from Fort Pierce, Florida. He told a good Samaritan and authorities that the boat capsized late Saturday after he and 39 others set off for Florida from Bimini.

Authorities said the boat, found about 100 miles (160 km) north of where it capsized, appeared to be propelled by the Gulf Stream, a warm, fast current that surrounds the Florida peninsula and flows along it. Atlantic Coast of the United States. No one was wearing a life jacket, and the rescued man informed authorities.

The Gulf Stream can be dangerous even on a sunny day. Throw in an overloaded boat, inexperienced sailors, stormy weather and dark nights, and they can turn deadly.

A little crafty advice was issued Saturday and Sunday as a severe cold front with winds of up to 23 mph (37 km/h) blew through the treacherous passage, creating spots swells up to 9 feet (3 meters).

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