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Friday, August 12, 2022
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    68 Haitians rescued from waters near Puerto Rico

    SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (AP) – At least five Haitian migrants drowned and 68 others were rescued on Thursday after a suspected human smuggling boat dropped the group off in waters near an uninhabited island west of Puerto Rico, officials said.

    The incident is the latest in a string of deadly voyages across the northern Caribbean carrying mostly Haitian migrants fleeing their country amid a deepening political and economic crisis and a spike in gang-related killings and kidnappings.

    Federal and local authorities searched the area near Mona Island for several hours after receiving a call from rangers with Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural Resources who first spotted the migrants.

    Officials determined that no additional people were missing, based on interviews with survivors, United States (US) Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told The Associated Press. He said 41 men, 25 women and two children survived, adding that none had any urgent medical issues.

    A spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection Jeffrey Quiñones said all migrants aboard the boat were Haitians.

    Most human smuggling boats that carry Haitian migrants to Puerto Rico depart from the neighbouring Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

    Some capsize in the treacherous Mona Passage that separates the two islands while other boats drop off migrants in tiny uninhabited islands before reaching Puerto Rico.

    In this case, the boat carrying the migrants fled the scene, Castrodad said. The rescue comes just days after authorities in the Bahamas recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and rescued 25 more after their boat capsized last Sunday.

    Rescued migrants walk on the shore off Mona Island. PHOTO: AP
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