Florida authorities, along with the Coast Guard, are searching for survivors of a boat that capsized off the Florida coast. That boat was reportedly carrying an estimated 40 migrants from the Bahamas to Florida, the New York Times reports.
Authorities only learned of the accident the morning of Tuesday, Jan. 25, two days after it is suspected to have capsized. A boater found a man clinging side of the overturned ship. From the Times:
The man said he had been hanging on to the boat since Saturday night, when it left Bimini, in the Bahamas, and began heading north before running into severe weather.
The 25 foot-boat was making its way from the small island chain of Bimini, which lies 80 miles off the coast of Miami. The Coast Guard reported that the boat capsized on Jan. 23 just 45 miles from the coast. The Coast Guard also suspects that the boat may have been part of a human smuggling operation. Last year, the CG estimates over 700 people were caught at sea last year trying to reach the U.S.
An air and sea rescue operation began Tuesday morning and by that night had covered more than 1,300 square miles. By Wednesday, an area covering 7,500 nautical miles had been searched. But authorities admitted the situation was dire. Bad weather, which resulted in the boat capsizing, environmental conditions, and a late start to the rescue operation has left authorities with little hope of finding survivors. One body has already been found.
It is dire,” Capt. Jo-Ann F. Burdian, the commander of the Coast Guard’s Miami district, said at a briefing on Wednesday. “The longer they remain in the water, without food, without water, it’s cold, with the marine environment, the sun, the conditions. Every moment that passes, and it becomes much more dire and unlikely that anyone can survive.
U.S. authorities have been in contact with authorities in the Bahamas to identify the people that were on board.