Eleven people were killed on Thursday after a boat believed to be carrying dozens of migrants capsized off the coast of Puerto Rico, authorities said.
None of the people spotted in the water during a “mass rescue” about 10 miles north of Desecho Island appeared to be wearing life jackets, the Coast Guard said in a release.
On Thursday night, 31 survivors had been found in what the Coast Guard described as a suspected “illegal voyage”.
The origin of the ship and the nationalities of all those on board were not immediately known. A Coast Guard Spokesperson told The Associated Press that eight Haitians had been hospitalized.
The Coast Guard launched the effort after Customs and Border Guard helicopter personnel spotted the overturned boat shortly before noon.
“If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t have known until someone found any sign or received messages from people that their loved ones are missing,” the spokesman, Ricardo Castrodad, told the AP.
In January, a single survivor was rescued after a 25-foot boat capsized off the coast of Florida after it left the Bahamas by the dozen in a suspected smuggling operation.
The man was found by a commercial sailor who saw him clinging to the overturned boat.
The Coast Guard said the number of Haitian migrants it has intercepted has increased to nearly 4,500 since October, up from 1,500 in fiscal year 2021 and just over 400 in fiscal year 2020.
The apparent wave of migrants comes as the country – one of the poorest in the world – has seen violent gang fighting left hundreds of displaced people and dozens dead and injured in the capital, according to the United Nations†
Earlier this year, a UN official said: the country was in an ‘acute political and institutional crisis’.