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February 7, 2014

Coast Guard suspends search for missing migrants off Florida’s coast

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing person from a capsized 24-foot motorboat late Friday.

The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended the search for a missing person from a capsized 24-foot motorboat late Friday.

Officials confirmed on Saturday that the surviving migrants were still on the cutter, but would not release the nationality of the migrants or where they left from.

The boat carried 12 migrants when it flipped over 75 miles northeast of West Palm Beach on Thursday.

The Royal Netherlands Navy Zeeland discovered the boat Thursday, rescuing seven and recovering three bodies from within the hull. The seven survivors were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Richard Etheridge.

Authorities confirmed that a fourth person was found dead Friday.

Coast Guard officials haven’t yet determined the cause for the capsizing, but said that the seas were relatively calm Thursday.

Officers are interviewing the migrants.

“It’s an ongoing law enforcement case,” said Coast Guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma.

Earlier this week, the Coast Guard repatriated 14 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba after two separate groups of Cubans were interdicted.

Last Saturday, nine Cuban migrants attempting to enter the United States were interdicted at sea by the Coast Guard, and on Monday, five others were found on a homemade raft off Key West.

This is the second time in a little more than a week, however, that a migrant has died.

On Jan. 30, a Haitian migrant died and eight others were detained after coming ashore at Fort Lauderdale beach.

In October, four Haitian women died after the recreational fishing boat carrying them plunged in the waters of Government Cut off Miami Beach.

Two months later, at least 30 Haitian migrants died off the coast of the Bahamas after their boat capsized, and on Christmas Day, 17 Haitians died off the Turks and Caicos.

In both the cases of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, the wooden Haitian sailboats left from the northwest coast of Haiti, the Ile de la Tortue.

On Friday, Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe visited the island to assess the situation, and see what plans the government can provide to help stem the flow of Haitians using the island as a jumping off point.

After the Miami Herald wrote about the plight of the islands’ residents, Lamothe responded by sending 3,000 kits of food to the island, enough to feed the people for 10 to 12 days while the government worked on a emergency plan.

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