MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The U.S. Coast Guard has suspended its search for Cuban migrants who went missing in the Florida Keys after their boat overturned.
USCG crews first responded to the incident on Thursday, about 16 miles south of Key West.
The crew of the Resolute rescued eight people, while the Medium crew pulled two bodies from the water.
A total of 10 migrants had remained missing over the weekend.
"The Coast Guard, partner Department of Defense and local agency crews searched continuously the past three days to locate the missing 10 people," Capt. Adam Chamie, the Coast Guard's commander of the Key West sector, said in a statement.
"The decision to suspend a search is always difficult and is made after careful consideration of all the facts. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones impacted by this tragedy," Capt. Chamie said.
The Coast Guard said the search encompassed an area about the size of New Hampshire.
So far this fiscal year, there have been 298 Cubans interdicted at sea. That compares to 49 for all of last year, 313 in 2019 and 259 in 2018.
"There's been a resurgence of the rafter phenomenon, the "balseros" as they're called in Spanish," said Dr. Jorge Duany, head of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.
He said while numbers are way down since the wet foot dry foot policy ended under President Obama, problems in Cuba are pushing people to leave, even if it means sailing through the dangerous, sometimes deadly Florida straights.
"Now, unfortunately, it looks like people are desperate and frustrated with the economic conditions, the pandemic, perhaps with the political situation as well," Dr. Duany said. "It's a pattern that is concerning it seems to be a growing trend for Cubans to try to reach Florida in whatever way they can."
for more features.