MIAMI – Seeking 10 Cubans missing after the sinking of a boat It escalated on Friday, a day after the United States Coast Guard rescued eight of them alive and recovered two bodies from the sea.
The group of migrants was initially spotted Thursday during a routine 18-mile patrol southwest of Key West, Florida. Search efforts continued overnight and the area was expanded on Friday in an attempt to locate them, according to authorities.
The United States Navy, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission joined the search.
As the boat sank after it capsized, the type of ship the group used is unknown to cross the Straits of Florida.
The survivors were transferred to a Coast Guard ship to receive food, water and medical attention. They underwent a medical examination and remain aboard a Coast Guard cutter, according to authorities.
Cubans and people of other nationalities found at sea are generally repatriated, although Coast Guard spokesman Commander Lt. Jason Neiman said the next step “has not been determined.”
Captain Adam Chamie, Commander of the Key West Sector Coast Guard, noted that the group of survivors includes two women and six men. They were detected by a boat that was patrolling the area off the Florida Keys.
“They managed to stay on the surface by swimming with their arms and legs,” he said. “They needed help.”
The Coast Guard has intercepted 308 Cubans at sea since October, 200 of them in the last two months. Only 49 islanders were intercepted by the agency between October 2019 and September 2020, when due to the pandemic, trips were suspended and confinements were imposed.
This year’s figure is lined up to exceed the 313 Cubans intercepted between October 2018 and September 2019 and is already higher than the previous year.
However, levels are still much lower than the thousands that arrived before January 2017. This when President Barack Obama suspended the US policy of “dry feet, wet feet” by which residency was granted to all Cubans who reached the United States one year after their arrival.
The increase occurs amid the pandemic, financial reforms and restrictions imposed by the government of President Donald Trump that affected the Cuban economy, which contracted 11% last year due to a drop in tourism and remittances.