The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday that 11 bodies had been found and 31 people had been rescued during a major operation after a boat capsized off the coast of Puerto Rico.
The boat – it is not known how many people were on board, but it was an immigrant, according to the US authorities – was found overturned yesterday at noon, with many people at sea without life jackets.
The Coast Guard has deployed several helicopters and speedboats in the area, about 18 miles (18 km) from the uninhabited island of Desceo, west of Puerto Rico.
By 18:00 (local time; 01:00 today Greek time) 11 women and 20 men had been rescued, according to Ricardo Castrodand, a spokesman for the US Coast Guard.
The Border Patrol clarified that they were mainly immigrants from Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The Coast Guard “suspects” the ship of “illegal sailing”, it said in a statement issued earlier.
The search and rescue operation, which also involves teams from the Puerto Rican police and coast guard, continues, Ricardo Castrodand said.
Migration flows, especially from Haiti, have intensified in recent months as many try to escape the onslaught of gang violence and economic stagnation in the country by migrating to the US and often boarding ships other than cruisers.