At least one person is dead and 38 remain missing as rescue crews continue to search the waters off Florida coast after a boat capsized over the weekend, the United States Coast Guard said.
Captain Jo-Ann Burdian, the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Miami Sector, said at a press conference on Jan. 26 that rescuers located a body while searching for 39 people missing from a suspected “human smuggling venture.”
The body was being transferred to Fort Pierce, Burdian said.
The U.S. Coast Guard received a report on Jan. 25 that a commercial mariner rescued a man clinging to capsized vessel about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet.
The survivor, whose identity has not been released, told the U.S. Coast Guard that he left Bihimini, Bahamas with 39 other people on Jan. 22 night, but the 25-foot boat capsized due to severe weather.
The survivor also said that none of the passengers of the vessel was wearing a life jacket.
The incident occurred on a “normal” human smuggling route from the Bahamas into the southern U.S., Burdian said.
So far, rescue crews have covered an area roughly the size of New Jersey, according to Burdian.
Officials did not provide a timeline for how long the search may last, but said that crews are “exhausting our search efforts.”
Burdian said that any survivors found would be in a “dire situation” without food and water after so many days.
Burdian said that the sole known survivor was taken to the hospital for symptoms of dehydration and sun exposure and was in stable condition as of Jan. 24 morning.
Burdian added that the Department of Homeland was interviewing the survivor.
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