Coast Guard suspends search for 12 missing Haitian migrants

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard suspended it search Wednesday for 12 Haitian migrants who went missing Monday in the waters off the British Virgin Islands.

Still missing are seven men, two women and three children, who reportedly were part of a group of migrants traveling from the Dutch and French Island of Saint Maarten to the British Virgin Islands aboard a grossly overloaded vessel. The migrant vessel reportedly struck a shoal and broke apart throwing all 25 passengers into the water.

Thirteen migrants were rescued by the Good Samaritan fishing vessel Argus III approximately three nautical miles south of Anegada, British Virgin Islands.

The incident was initially reported to the U.S. Coast Guard by a British Virgin Islands Search and Rescue VISAR volunteer and the British Virgin Islands Police. Rescuers reported that a cell phone call to emergency responders was made from occupants aboard the migrant vessel reporting the distress. VISAR and Police authorities contacted Coast Guard Sector San Juan Joint Rescue Sub-Center controllers to request Coast Guard assistance with the search efforts.

Since the search began Monday, Coast Guard rescue crews have searched alongside VISAR rescue crews, British Virgin Islands Drug Squad marine units, British Virgin Islands Police, a Husky & Marine Salvage vessel, and the fishing vessel Argus. Coast Guard rescue crews conducted 11 searches with HC-130 Hercules aircraft crews from Air Station Clearwater Fla., Air Station Borinquen HH-65 Dolphin helicopter crews and the Coast Guard Cutter Chincoteague. Search and rescue crews searched more than 1744 square nautical miles during the two day effort.

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

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