At least 11 people have died after a boat capsized north of Desecheo

At least 11 people have died and another 31 have been rescued after a boat sailing to about 10 miles north of Desecheo Island, in western Puerto Rico, to sink, reported Ricardo Castrodadpress spokesman for the Coast Guard de San Juan.

At the moment, they have reported to me that there are a total of 31 survivors; 11 women and 20 men. And they also reported to me that so far there are 11 victims. We have a C-130 aircraft that will join the search, our helicopters from the Borinquen Air Station are still searching and the Coast Guard Cutter Joseph Tezanos remains on scene to follow search and rescue efforts through the night. We continue with the search,” Castrodad emphasized by telephone.

The Coast Guard spokesman explained that units of the Customs and Border Protection (CBP, in English) and the United Rapid Action Forces (FURA) work on the rescue.

At this time, the origin of the people traveling on the boat, or their nationalities, is unknown. (Customs and Border Protection)

Castrodad manifested that the number of rescued people and victims could increase during the night. At this time, the origin of the people traveling on the boat, or their nationalities, is unknown. Several of those rescued indicated in videos posted on social media that they were from the Dominican Republic or Haiti.

However, Jeffrey QuinonesCBP spokesman in Puerto Rico, confirmed to the newspaper The New York Times what the boat sailed from the Dominican Republic and that the majority of the people on board were from Haiti.

Quiñones added that based on what several rescuers indicated, water began to enter the boat which ultimately caused it to sink.

The priority is to save as many lives as we can. This is an urgent situation, and it is a tragic situation because this is what we have been talking about for weeks. They are home-made boats, overloaded, unseaworthy and without life-saving equipment on board. It doesn’t take long for these boats to suffer an accident. You never want something like this to happen and we always patrol and seek to stop these vessels as quickly as possible, but this is constant movement by these human trafficking organizations,” Castrodad said earlier in the day.

The crew of a CBP reconnaissance plane spotted the vessel and alerted the Coast Guard at 11:47 am that the vessel was sinking and that there were people in the water who appeared to be without life jackets.

Units of the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) and the United Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) work in the rescue.
Units of the Customs and Border Protection Service (CBP) and the United Forces of Rapid Action (FURA) work in the rescue. (Customs and Border Protection)

The Aguadilla Comandancia Press Office indicated, through a written communication, that FURA personnel had rescued several people, but that an undetermined number of travelers drowned.

The Coast Guard indicated, through written statements, that they suspect that the ship was making an illegal trip and that, at the moment, they do not have an exact count of the people who were on board.

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