Nearly 100 US-bound migrants “are lucky to be alive” after their rescue from an overloaded cabin cruiser where they’d 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 “Power Whirl” Wednesday morning, according to a news release.
A Coast Guard law enforcement crew stopped the boat about 20 miles off Boca Raton, Fla., and photos showed the migrants wearing life jackets as they were ferried to the Coast Guard Cutter “Dependable.”
Once aboard, they were given food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. 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 handed over to authorities in the Bahamas on Sunday.
“These people are lucky to be alive,” Coast Guard Capt. Robert Kinsey of the Miami-based 7th District said in a statement.
“Paying anyone to smuggle you into the US is dangerous and illegal,” he added..
“Smugglers do not care whether you live or die, as evident by how recklessly overloaded this vessel was and how long these people went without food and water.”
During fiscal year 2022 ending 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 interdicted during the previous five years.
US Customs and Border Protection has also reported encountering 51,429 Haitians who illegally entered the country — by land, air or sea — during the first 11 months of this fiscal year — up from 48,727 the previous year and the 5,291 recorded in fiscal 2020.