2 Dead, 8 Rescued and Several Others Still Missing After Migrant Boat Capsizes Off Florida Keys

"This situation highlights the risks these migrants face as they attempt to enter the United States illegally by sea," Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson said in a statement

Two people were found dead and five others are still missing after a boat capsized off the Florida Keys, the U.S. Coast Guard said in statement on Friday.

According to the statement, eight people were also rescued by "good Samaritans and partner agency crews." Among the eight rescued, six were transferred to emergency medical services for medical evaluation while two others were in good health and were transferred to a Coast Guard patrol boat.

The two deceased victims were recovered by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation and were immediately transferred to the local medical examiner's office, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

The agency first heard of the accident as Key West watchstanders received multiple reports of people in the water at approximately 10 a.m. local time on Friday morning.

"We've gotten reports from all across the Lower Keys about people in the water," Coast Guard Petty Officer Nicole Groll said to Reuters, adding it was possible that more than one vessel had overturned or sunk.

The boat, which capsized approximately 14 miles south of Sugarloaf Key with 15 people onboard, was "determined a rustic vessel on an illegal voyage to the United States," the U.S. Coast Guard's statement read.

A cruise ship rescued one person and transferred the individual to Coast Guard crews after being found swimming off the Florida Keys, Aug. 5, 2022. The person's rustic vessel capsized approximately 14 miles off Sugarloaf Key. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Issac Mayo's crew)
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Coast Guard Cutter Issac Mayo's crew

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those who lost their lives off the Lower Keys," said Rear Adm. Brendan McPherson, commander of the Seventh Coast Guard District, in the statement.

"This situation highlights the risks these migrants face as they attempt to enter the United States illegally by sea," he continued. "The Florida Straits and its approaches can be hazardous for even the best trained and equipped mariners. 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."

Alongside the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation, the Coast Guard was assisted by Air Station Miami, Cutter Isaac Mayo, Cutter Pablo Valent, Cutter Dauntless, Station Key West and Station Marathon in their rescue efforts, the statement added.

On its Twitter account, the Seventh District of the Coast Guard has been giving updates on their search, including one on Saturday morning, which read: "#Update Crews searched through the night and will continue to search today for the 5 missing people in the water. #SAR"

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It is still unclear where the vessel was traveling from. According to Coast Guard officials, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection was among the agencies that responded to the situation, NBC News reported.

"This incident off the coast of the Lower Keys remains under investigation," CBP spokesperson Rob Brisley told the outlet. "CBP has nothing further to add."

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