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Search for survivors after migrant boat capsizes off Florida abandoned

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The hope was slim, it is now almost nil. US authorities will end the search “active” of survivors after the capsizing off Florida of a boat on board which were forty migrants, announced Thursday, January 27, the coast guard.

“If we do not receive additional information allowing us to refine our operations or direct us to other survivors, we will suspend the active search at nightfall”Area Miami Coast Guard Captain Jo-Ann Burdian said at a news conference.

The boat, which left the Bimini Islands in the Bahamas on Saturday evening, had capsized shortly after departure, and the alert had been given Tuesday morning by a commercial vessel which had picked up one of the passengers, the only known survivor to date, who had managed to cling to the hull of the overturned boat.

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So far, five bodies have been found. “Unfortunately, we have arrived at the most difficult moment of this kind of operation, where we have to decide to stop active research”, added the captain of the coastguards, who have found four bodies in the last twenty-four hours, after a first body found earlier.

Open investigation

According to the survivor, the boat was carrying thirty-nine other people and none of the passengers were wearing life jackets. It capsized about 70 km east of Fort Pierce Inlet Park, located north of Miami. It was about 200 km north of the Bimini Islands.

“Every passing moment”He becomes “more unlikely that anyone could have survived”had explained, on Wednesday, with seriousness Mme Burdian.

The American authorities, who opened an investigation, suspect a “human smuggling operation”describing a “usual route” for such traffic “between the Bahamas and the southeastern United States”. “The purpose of this investigation is to identify, arrest and prosecute any responsible or criminal group who organized, facilitated or profited from this doomed enterprise”, Investigator Anthony Salisbury said Thursday.

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The Bahamas, an archipelago of 700 islets (thirty-nine of which are inhabited) located 80 km southeast of the coast of Florida, close to Jamaica, Cuba and Haiti, are regularly used as a land of transit by migrants seeking to reach the United States, and as a starting point for a dangerous crossing by Haitians living in the archipelago.

About 5,000 Haitian migrants work legally in the Bahamas, according to the World Organization for Migration, but between 20,000 and 50,000 reside there illegally.

The World with AFP