Three Cubans were rescued from an uninhabited island in the Atlantic archipelago of the Bahamas, where they spent 33 days and survived by eating coconuts and rats, and are now being held in the custody of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said the Cubans, two men and a woman, who were rescued on Tuesday from the tiny island of Anguilla Cay, remain at the Broward Transitional Center, an immigration detention center located in Broward County, South Florida.
“The three individuals will have access to all legal processes available to them under U.S. law,” added the federal agency, which also specified that they have received “comprehensive medical care.”
The three Cubans were rescued by U.S. Coast Guard agents after fleeing Cuba due to the precarious living conditions on the island, more than 60 years after the imposition of the communist dictatorship.
After being rescued, they were taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center hospital in Key West, in the southernmost tip of Florida, and without serious injuries, they were transferred on Wednesday to the Pompano Beach detention center.
The Cubans told the Coast Guard helicopter crew that rescued them that about five weeks ago the boat they were on sank, but they managed to swim to the deserted island.
Throughout that time on that small island, located at the southeast end of Cay Sal Bank (known in Spanish as “El Placer de los Roques”), between Cayo Hueso and Cuba, the three castaways survived by eating snails, rats and coconuts, in addition to dealing with the lack of fresh water, they recounted.
“It was unbelievable. I don’t know how they did it. We’re amazed they were in such good shape when we found them,” said Lt. Justin Dougherty, a U.S. Coast Guard spokesman.
According to the agency, during a routine aerial patrol the Coast Guard discovered the three people flying a makeshift flag, but bad weather prevented them from being rescued later that day.
In a video of the Coast Guard posted on social networks, Lieutenant Ricardo Rodriguez, a pilot who participated in the rescue, explained that they were able to communicate with the Cubans through a radio they dropped from the air along with bottles of water and food.