Coast Guard rescues 176 Haitians from sailboat off Florida Keys

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KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard removed 176 Haitians from an overloaded and unseaworthy wooden sailboat Monday as it approached the Florida Keys, officials said.

The rescue effort unfolded after a U.S. Customs flight crew spotted the 60-foot vessel about 25 miles northeast of Anguilla Cay, Bahamas, the Coast Guard said in a statement. Press.

The crew of the Cutter Paul Clark provided personal flotation devices to those on the boat, who had no basic lifesaving equipment or navigation lights, officials said. A team from the Coast Guard station in Islamorada then worked with federal, state and local law enforcement officers to arrest the people. Ten were taken to hospital with symptoms of dehydration.

“It is extremely dangerous to navigate the Florida Straits on an unseaworthy vessel, especially off the Florida Keys where the water is very dangerous with shoals and reefs. “said Chief Warrant Officer James Kinney.

Coast Guard crews have already rescued 557 Haitians three months into the current exercise. This is a sharp increase from last year, when 1,527 Haitians had been rescued by the end of the year. The agency said 418 Haitian migrants were rescued in 2020, 932 in 2019, 609 in 2018 and 419 in 2017.

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