KEY WEST, FLA. (WSVN) - For a third day, U.S. Coast Guard crews searched for 10 people who went missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Key West, leaving two people dead.
Crews have looked for the missing boaters by air and by water since Thursday.
“We want to find these people and bring them back to their loved ones,” said USCG Petty Officer Jose Hernandez.
According to officials, a crew recovered eight survivors at around 1 p.m. Thursday during a routine patrol.
Officials said the vessel was carrying 20 passengers when it capsized 18 miles southwest of the Keys, throwing the occupants overboard.
Two Coast Guard cutters were sent out to help in the search.
The survivors reported they left Cuba on Sunday and capsized sometime Wednesday evening. They told crews 10 other people were still lost.
“That is when we started sending out additional Coast Guard assets to begin searching,” said Hernandez.
As of Friday night, officials said, they have not found the boat.
Hernandez said crews find themselves on a race against time.
“The longer that they’re in the water, there’s a higher risk,” he said.
Those who were rescued were brought aboard a Coast Guard cutter where they are receiving food, water and basic medical attention.
Dr. Giselle Elgarresta Rios, the founding director of Barry University’s Institute for Imigration Studies, said many Cubans know how dangerous the journey can be.
“It’s a communist government, and it’s a violation of human rights,” she said.
Elgarresta Rios said migrants choose to sail to the U.S., despite the risks, in search of a better life.
“They know they need to risk in order to get a better life, for themselves and for the future of their families,” she said.
It’s something that hits close to home for Elgarresta Rios. Her mother was part of Operation Pedro Pan back in the 1960s.
“That was 14,000 children, and between 1960 and 1963, they left the island for the same reasons that these people are doing it now,” she said.
The USCG has teamed up with the Navy, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and Customs and Border Patrol to continue search efforts.
“We’ve done 40 hours and searched approximately 6,052 square miles, which is basically roughly the size of Hawaii,” said Hernandez.
Mariners are asked to be on the lookout and contact the Sector Key West Command Center at 305-292-8727 with any information on the missing boaters.
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