At least 11 people drowned when a vessel carrying Haitian migrants capsized near Puerto Rico, the U.S. Coast Guard said, amid a steady increase in migrants attempting reach U.S. shores in dangerous marine voyages.
The vessel, which was carrying “an undetermined number of people,” was spotted 10 nautical miles north of Desecheo Island, Puerto Rico. As of 6 p.m., 11 deceased and 31 survivors had been found, the Coast Guard said on Twitter.
“There’s a fast response Cutter from Sector San Juan that’s on scene, and Coast Guard helicopters from air station Borinquen are still searching and flying tonight,” a Coast Guard spokesperson told Reuters.
The survivors have been taken to Puerto Rico, with eight of them being treated at a local hospital, said Jeffrey Quinones, Public Affairs Officer for U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Puerto and the Virgin Islands.
Migrants, particularly from Haiti, have in recent months been attempting to escape gang violence and poverty through dangerous voyages on unseaworthy vessels.