The U.S. Coast Guard says it plans to stop searching for more survivors after a boat with 39 people capsized on Sunday.
Four more bodies were found off the coast of Florida after a boat with 39 people overturned over the weekend, the US Coast Guard said, but said it would end its search operations until sunset on Thursday, unless new information emerges. .
Authorities have found a total of five bodies, leading to the disappearance of 34 people, Coast Guard Captain Joe Ann Birdian said during a briefing in Miami.
The incident is believed to be related to human smuggling, US officials said.
“We had good visibility. We know we are looking in the right area. We flew over the vessel several times and found more dead. That means we don’t think anyone else is likely to have survived, “Birdian said.
“If we do not receive additional specific information to help redirect our search, we will stop this active search.”
– USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) January 26, 2022
Rescue crews found a man’s body on Wednesday, while a lone survivor was found clinging to the hull of an overturned boat on Tuesday.
The incident comes as more Haitians try to reach the United States by sea as the Caribbean island nation faces worsening economic and political crises and gang-related kidnappings.
Migrants seeking to cross to Florida board fragile vessels traveling through the Caribbean through the Bahamas.
Rescuers are searching for survivors after the boat capsized in stormy seas on Sunday morning. The ship left the Bahamas Bimini, about 80 km (50 miles) east of Miami, on Saturday night.
It overturned about 72 km (45 miles) east of Fort Pierce Bay, off the Atlantic coast of Florida, about halfway between Miami and Cape Canaveral.
The only survivor was spotted on Tuesday morning by crew members of a private tug. The survivor told authorities after his rescue that he was one of 40 people on board the boat, none of whom wore a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.
The stormy waters of the Gulf Stream can be insidious even on a calm, sunny day. Throw overloaded boat, inexperienced sailors, stormy weather and dark night and they can become deadly.
The Miami Internal Security Investigation Service (HSI) has launched an investigation, saying the migrant trip is certainly part of a human smuggling operation. Under federal law, a smuggler convicted of causing death is eligible for execution.
“The purpose of this investigation is to identify, arrest and prosecute any criminal or criminal organization that has organized, facilitated or benefited from this doomed endeavor,” said HSI Miami Special Agent Anthony Salisbury.
He said he would not comment on the nationality of the people on board the boat, as this is part of the investigation.
In a separate incident, the Coast Guard announced the interception of a sailing ship off the Bahamas, overloaded with 191 Haitians believed to be heading to Florida on Wednesday.