More than 180 people were rescued from an overloaded boat early Monday in the Florida Keys, according to the US Coast Guard and the US Border Patrol.
Some 18 Haitian migrants “who were trapped in dangerous ocean currents while attempting to swim to shore” also were rescued by federal, state and local law enforcement, US Border Patrol Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said Tuesday on Twitter.
More than 180 rescued people are aboard a cutter, Coast Guard spokesperson Nicole Groll said Tuesday.
Groll said everyone is believed to have been rescued after the migrants were trapped in dangerous ocean currents. No deaths have been reported, Groll said.
The migrants are being processed and, once officials are done speaking to everyone, authorities will have a better idea of what the next steps will be for them, according to Groll.
As the vessel hit the sand bar off Whale Harbor, there were “reports of people in the water and our land partners are on scene,” the Coast Guard Southeast said in a tweet on Monday. Rescue efforts were launched, the Coast Guard said.
Conditions were rough for rescue crews, with 6- to 10-foot seas and winds of 25 mph, the Coast Guard told CNN. Whale Harbor is in Islamorada, in the Upper Florida Keys.
Clothing, pots, backpacks and life jackets could be seen on the vessel, photos from a CNN team on the ground show.
The rescue operations began when a good Samaritan reported the vessel to the Key West watch standers at 5 a.m., the Coast Guard said in a tweet.
On Sunday, the Coast Guard said at least five people died after a homemade vessel capsized near Florida’s Little Torch Key. Nine people were rescued from the vessel, according to the agency.
Authorities had nearly 7,000 encounters with Haitian migrants in Florida in October, compared to just 1,188 in October 2021, according to US Customs and Border Patrol data. The agency reported nearly 57,000 encounters with Haitian migrants in Florida in 2022, an increase from nearly 49,000 the prior year.