Coast Guard Coordinates Medevac of Cuban Migrants

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard coordinated the rescue efforts surrounding 12 Cuban migrants who were adrift in a raft approximately 300 miles south of New Orleans, yesterday.

Two are deceased, two are still missing, six were medevaced, and two are in good condition aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Cypress.

At approximately 6 a.m. yesterday, the Coast Guard received a report from a crewmember aboard the Eos, an 800-foot tanker ship, stating they had made visual contact with a raft, which was in distress and that there were people in the water. The Coast Guard immediately diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Cypress, a 225-foot medium endurance cutter who was 75-miles away conducting deep-water buoy maintenance, and coordinated with Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., to provide an Air Force HH-60 rescue helicopter.

Coast Guard medical personnel determined that six of the migrants needed an immediate medevac. The Air Force HH-60 rescue helicopter transported them to West Jefferson Hospital in New Orleans, where they are reported to be in stable condition.

Once aboard Coast Guard cutters, all migrants are given food, water, shelter and any necessary medical treatment.

Throughout the day, a Mexican naval vessel and a HC-130 Hercules aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla., assisted in the search for the remaining two migrants. The Coast Guard has suspended search operations for the night.

“This is an unnecessary tragedy and once again illustrates the inherent dangers of taking to the high seas and try and enter the U.S. illegally,” said Lt. j.g. Anastacia Visneski, public affairs officer for the Eighth Coast Guard District.

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