Nearly 100 US-bound migrants “are lucky to be alive” after their save from an overloaded cabin cruiser where they had spent two days without food or water, the US Coast Guard said Sunday.
The crew of a Coast Guard helicopter spotted the desperate passengers signaling for help — waving their arms through the windows of the 40-foot-tall “Power Whirl” Wednesday morning, according to a news release.
A Coast Guard law enforcement crew stopped the boat about 20 miles from Boca Raton, Florida, and photos showed the migrants wearing life jackets as they were ferried to the Coast Guard Cutter “Dependable.”
Once on board, they were given food, water, shelter and basic medical care. No one was found with injuries.
The migrants had endured seven days crammed into the “Power Whirl,” according to the Coast Guard.
Officials said there were 96 Haitian migrants, one Bahamian and one person from Uganda – including 10 children. All were turned over to authorities in the Bahamas on Sunday.
“These people are lucky to be alive,” said Coast Guard Capt. Robert Kinsey of the Miami-based 7th District in a statement.
“Paying someone to smuggle you into the United States is dangerous and illegal,” he added.
“Smugglers don’t care if you live or die, as evidenced by how recklessly overloaded this vessel was and how long these people went without food and water.”
During fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, Coast Guard crews interdicted 7,137 Haitian migrants, more than four times the 1,527 stopped the previous fiscal year.
The latest number also far exceeds the total of 3,905 Haitians banned over the previous five years.
US Customs and Border Protection also reported that they encountered 51,429 Haitians who entered the country illegally – by land, air or sea – during the first 11 months of this fiscal year – up from 48,727 the year before and the 5,291 registered in the financial year 2020.