Almost 40 missing after suspected people-smuggling boat capsizes off Florida

Almost 40 people are missing at sea after a suspected people-smuggling capsized off the coast of Florida.

US Coast Guard officials are searching the notorious “Bermuda Triangle” area for 39 people who have been lost at sea since Saturday.

The craft, believed to have been operated by people smugglers, was discovered about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet.

One person was still clinging to the overturned hull, and told the “good Samaritan” that rescued them that some 39 other refugees had done into the water when the boat capsized in bad weather.

According to a report from the sole survivor, none of them had been wearing a life jacket.

The boat had left Bimini, in the Bahamas, late on Saturday, January 24, but the US Coast gUard only learned of the incident at around 8am on Tuesday morning.

A statement uploaded to Twitter by the US Coastguard read: “Coast Guard Sector Miami watchstanders received a report from a good Samaritan who rescued a man singing to a capsized vessel approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet.

“The survivor reported he left Bimini, Bahamas, with 39 other people Saturday night and encountered severe weather, causing the vessel to capsize.

“According to the survivor, no-one was wearing a life jacket."

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The statement continued: "Coast Guard air and surface asset crews are actively searching for people in the water. This is a suspected human smuggling venture.”

The Coast Guard later posted a photo on Twitter showing the lone survivor clinging to the foundering vessel.

Sea temperatures are low in the waters between Bimini and Florida, and a huge variety of sharks including tiger sharks, bull sharks, and a big population of hammerheads.

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The tragic news comes only a week after 32 people were rescued from another suspected migrant boat which had capsized about five miles west of Bimini.

The seas between Florida and Bermuda have claimed hundreds of lives over the years – the first sinking recorded in the so-called “Devil’s Triangle” reportedly happened in 1800 and a vessel with around 20 people aboard vanished in its journey from the Bahamas to Lake Worth Beach in December 2020.

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