SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The U.S. Coast Guard announced Monday that it has suspended the search for possible survivors of a sunken boat near Puerto Rico after rescuing 11 bodies and 38 migrants from a ship carrying an estimated 60 to 75 passengers.
The crew spent four days exploring the northern waters off the uninhabited island of Desechio, west of Puerto Rico. All 11 of the dead were Haitian women and 36 of the 38 survivors were Haitians. The other two are residents of the Dominican Republic, officials said.
Capt. Gregory Maji, Commander of the San Juan Coast Guard Sector, said: “Our sincere condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who have not survived. “These crews did their best to make sure that if anyone else survived, they would have the best chance of being rescued.”
Rescue efforts began Thursday after a U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter spotted the wreck while patrolling.
Authorities have reported a large increase in the number of Haitian migrants fleeing their country in recent months, which is battling brutal gang violence, political instability and a spike in a shattered economy.