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Coast Guard Intercepts Boat Carrying 176 Haitians in Florida

Guardia Costera intercepta embarcación en Florida sobrecargada con 176 haitianos

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The Coast Guard confirmed Tuesday that a vessel intercepted on Monday near Florida Keys was overloaded with 176 Haitians on board, ten of whom had to be hospitalized for symptoms of dehydration.

The interception occurred off Key Largo, near Ocean Reef (south of Miami), after a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft initially detected the vessel about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northwest of Eel Key in the Bahamas.

Alerted by the Key West Coast Guard, the naval air base sent the ship “Paul Clark” in search of the wooden sailboat which was sailing without basic life-saving equipment or navigation lights, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The crew of the ‘Paul Clark’ arrived on scene and found an extremely overloaded vessel and had to provide them with flotation devices to prevent loss of life, given that weather conditions were poor, with winds of 20 mph (32 km/h) and waves of 4 to 6 feet (1.22-1.83 meters).

James Kinney, sector Key West command duty officer, warned that it is extremely dangerous to navigate the Florida Straits in an unseaworthy vessel, especially off the Florida Keys, where the water is very treacherous with shoals and reefs.

Kinney explained that thanks to the quick coordination between so many different agencies, such as Miami-Dade County Fire and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, no lives were lost during this interception.

Ten Haitians had to be transported to a hospital for dehydration.

The Coast Guard routinely repatriates persons intercepted at sea to their home countries.

Since October 1, 2021, the start of the fiscal year, the Coast Guard has interdicted 557 Haitians at sea, compared to 1,527 and 418 intercepted in fiscal years 2021 and 2020, respectively.

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