Search continues after Ian sinks vessel


() — Another body was recovered Friday in the search for missing Cuban migrants off the coast of the Florida Keys after their vessel sank, caught in inclement weather brought on by Hurricane Ian.

Two bodies have now been found and there are ongoing search-and-rescue operations for the remaining 16 migrants.

The Southeast Coast Guard assisted in rescuing nine of the 27 on the vessel after an illegal migration venture failed.

U.S. Coast Guard Miami Petty Officer Nicole Groll said they take a calculated risk going out on missions during storms and hurricanes, but no matter how much time passes, they treat each one as a rescue mission.

“We still have search crews out there today looking for any signs of anyone in the mangroves, hulled somewhere, holding onto something floating, anything that we can find, anything that we can see. We are doing our best to make sure that ultimately, the families know that their loved ones are OK or they have some closure if they’re not,” Groll said.

U.S. Border Patrol and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office initially responded to 4 migrants who were able to swim to the shores of Stock Island, Florida, after the vessel sank Wednesday. 

A spokesperson for Border Patrol said the Miami sector of Florida’s coastal border has seen a 306% increase in migrant encounters when compared to last year.

The Coast Guard has encountered more than 6,000 Cubans this fiscal year compared to around 800 last year.

A Coast Guard crew Friday repatriated 120 Cubans following Hurricane Ian. They had come over on several different vessels over the course of a few days. 

In Texas, hundreds of people crossed into Eagle Pass on Friday — approximately 600 within three large groups in just a matter of hours — many of them from Cuba.

There have been more than 2.1 million migrant encounters at the southern border since October 2021, but when the coastal border is included, there have been more than 2.5 million encounters. 

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