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Migrant Boat Headed To St. Thomas From Sint Maarten Capsizes … 15 Missing At Sea

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VIRGIN GORDA – Coast Guard rescue crews area actively searching waters between the British Virgin Islands and Sint Maarten on Thursday for possible survivors of a capsized migrant vessel.

Two Sint Maarten and two Cuban migrants who were traveling aboard the capsized vessel were rescued by a Good Samaritan vessel Monday in waters south of Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands and transported to Virgin Gorda, where they were transferred to island authorities.

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector San Juan were notified by British Virgin Islands authorities and family members Wednesday morning that one of the survivors reported the migrant vessel departed the Sint Maarten Saturday night on a trip to St. Thomas.

The vessel was carrying 15 Cubans, one Colombian, a Dominican Republic national and two persons from Sint Maarten when it capsized sometime between Saturday night and early  Monday, after the vessel started taking on water.

Watchstanders proceeded to launch a Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen MH-65 Dolphin helicopter and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez to search for survivors.

Watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast and Enhanced Group Calling advising mariners and boaters in the area to be on the lookout for survivors. A Coast Guard HC-144 Ocean Sentry and a Coast Guard Auxiliary aircraft are actively participating in the search.

The Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard is also assisting search efforts with a dash-8 maritime patrol aircraft, while Virgin Islands Search and Rescue units are searching coastal areas in the British Virgin Islands.

So far, there have been no signs of other survivors.

Watchstanders in Sector San Juan are investigating reports of four lifejackets that were recovered Thursday by two vessels in waters south of St. John.

search and rescue BVI

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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