Coast Guard Rescues 23 Dominicans

SAN JUAN, PR – Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague and the Good Samaritan Vessel Caribbean Express rescued 23 Dominican migrants from the water today, after their yola capsized Saturday, approximately three nautical miles southwest of Isla Saona, Dominican Republic.

Dominican Republic Navy rescues crews also arrived on scene and recovered the body of one female migrant who was located deceased underneath the capsized yola.

Coast Guard HU-25 Falcon Jet and HH-65 Dolphin helicopter rescue crews located the Dominicans clinging on to the overturned 25-foot yola at 9:45 a.m. today, approximately 10 nautical miles southwest of Isla Saona, Dominican Republic. All 20 male and three females, including one who was 7-months pregnant, were reported being in good health after being rescued from the water.

The U.S. Coast Guard Joint Rescue Sub-Center, San Juan, received a request for assistance from Dominican Republic Navy authorities at approximately 6 p.m. Saturday to assist with the search efforts to find any possible survivors from the capsized yola.

Coast Guard controllers initiated the search yesterday by diverting an HU-25 Falcon Jet and Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague to the scene and launching an HH-65 Dolphin helicopter from Air Station Borinquen to search for the missing persons. Coast Guard controllers last night were able to briefly establish cellular phone communications with one of the migrants who was in the water and they received valuable information from him that assisted with the search.

According to reports from survivors, the yola was carrying approximately 24 people when the migrants initiated their voyage to cross the Mona Passage. They were in the water approximately 36 hours prior to being found by the Coast Guard.

Coast Guard rescue crews, including an HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Air Station Clearwater, Fla., completed searching a total of 11 search areas covering over 990 nautical square miles.

Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague will arrive to La Romana, Dominican Republic at 1:15 p.m. today to transfer the 23 rescued persons to Dominican Republic Navy authorities.

“This is the second time in the past six months that we have combined efforts with the Dominican Republic Navy and avoided a real tragedy, this case had the potential to be a serious mass casualty event,” said Capt. James E. Tunstall, Commander, Sector San Juan. “The 23 survivors that have been rescued are very lucky to be alive thanks to the high level of professionalism of the Dominican Republic Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the Good Samaritans involved in this search and rescue case.

Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague is a 110-foot patrol boat homeported in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Source: USCG D7 Public Affairs

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