A boat carrying 15 immigrants in the waters off the lower Florida Keys capsized Friday morning, leaving two people dead and another five yet to be found.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West officials were alerted of the capsize 14 miles south of Sugarloaf Key about 10 a.m. By Friday night, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officers had found two of the 15 dead, the Coast Guard said in a news release.
Eight people were rescued, one of them by a cruise ship, according to the Coast Guard. Six of those rescued needed a medical evaluation. Two “in good health” were transferred to a Coast Guard cutter.
The Coast Guard did not say where the immigrants were from.
“The Florida Straits and its approaches can be hazardous for even the best trained and equipped mariners,” Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, wrote in the release. “For people illegally migrating aboard unseaworthy or overloaded boats and homemade rafts, who lack basic lifesaving equipment like life jackets, those risks can often prove deadly.”
About a month ago, Coast Guard officials repatriated 74 people to Cuba after interdicting multiple boats off the Keys. Over 3,000 Cubans have been repatriated since October 2021, the agency said.
In late June, Coast Guard officials repatriated 98 Haitians after they were rescued off the coast of Islamorada.
Over 6,000 Haitians have been interdicted by the Coast Guard since October 2021, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said in a recent news release. That number skyrocketed from about 1,500 Haitians the previous year.