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Coast Guard rescues 176 Haitians from sailboat off Florida Keys

This overloaded 60-foot vessel some 25 miles northeast of Anguilla Cay, Bahamas.
This overloaded 60-foot vessel some 25 miles northeast of Anguilla Cay, Bahamas.(United States Coast Guard)
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:37 AM CST
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KEY LARGO, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Coast Guard pulled 176 Haitians from an overloaded, unseaworthy wooden sailing vessel 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 some 25 miles northeast of Anguilla Cay, Bahamas, the Coast Guard said in a news release.

The crew of the Cutter Paul Clark provided personal flotation devices to those onboard the boat, which didn’t have basic life saving equipment or navigation lights, officials said. A crew from the Coast Guard station in Islamorada then worked with federal, state and local law enforcement officers to take the people into custody. Ten were brought to a hospital with symptoms of dehydration.

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

Coast Guard crews have already rescued 557 Haitians three months into the current fiscal year. That’s up sharply from last year, when 1,527 Haitians had been rescued by year’s end. The agency said 418 Haitian migrants were rescued in 2020, 932 in 2019, 609 in 2018 and 419 in 2017.

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