US Coast Guard to End Search With 5 Dead, 34 Missing in Florida Boat Capsize
22:04 GMT 27.01.2022 (Updated: 22:06 GMT 27.01.2022)
© REUTERS / MARCO BELLOMembers of the crew are seen onboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Skipjack docked at the U.S. Coast Guard station after searching for 39 people reported missing after their boat capsized in the Atlantic Ocean in what is being called a human smuggling attempt gone awry, in Fort Pierce, Florida, U.S., January 26, 2022
© REUTERS / MARCO BELLO
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - The US Coast Guard found a total of five bodies from a boat that capsized off Florida and plan to suspend the operation at sunset with 34 migrants still missing, Captain Jo-Ann Burdian said at a press briefing.
Burdian, captain of the coast guard's Miami sector, said in making the decision she balanced unseen weather conditions, the number of people who went into the water, and the confidence they have. She said the victims in this case have been in the water since Saturday evening.
"We have found four deceased bodies in the last 24 hours, bringing the total to five deceased bodies we've recovered inside our search area," Burdian said on Thursday. "I have come to the most difficult portion of when to cease actively searching... at sunset this evening, we will suspend active searching."
Burdian said that if the Coast Guard receives additional information that helps the operation, the search could resume. She also said the Coast Guard will continue to keep a robust on-water presence with its partners.
The search party recovered one body earlier in the week and the lone survivor spotted on the hull of the capsized vessel was rescued by a passing Good Samaritan who took him ashore where he was given medical attention, Burdian said. The survivor told authorities that 40 people left Bimini in the Bahamas on Saturday night and said the vessel they were in capsized during rough weather. None of them wore a safety jacket.
Anthony Salisbury, special-agent-in-charge with the US Department of Homeland Security also spoke at Thursday’s press briefing. He said the tragedy stems from a suspected human smuggling operation gone awry and asked the public and family members to call in to a DHS tip line so that investigators can identify, arrest and prosecute the people who facilitated or profited from the venture.