Search Continues for 49 Haitians Missing at Sea

MIAMI – The Coast Guard is continuing its search for 49 Haitians missing since their vessel caught fire and sank Monday 23-miles north of Monte Cristi, Dominican Republic today.

The two migrants rescued by the crew of the motor yacht Worldwind Wednesday morning initially reported 54 people on the vessel when it left Haiti. During an interview between the Haitian Consul and survivors, it was reported there were 56 Haitians on board the homemade motor vessel. Five bodies have been recovered by the crew of the Cutter Valiant.

The Coast Guard Liaison Officer in the Dominican Republic was notified yesterday around 8:30 a.m. by the Dominican Republic navy that two people were taken to a local hospital in El Morro, Dominican Republic after a boat with 56 people caught fire and sank. Multiple Coast Guard aircraft and the Coast Guard Cutter Valiant arrived to the search area around 12:30 p.m yesterday. The Valiant continued to search throughout the night. Early this morning, Coast Guard rescue coordinators launched an HC-130 aircraft and an HH-60 helicopter to assist the Valiant search. Coast Guard assets have searched a combined area of 1,250 square miles.

The crew of a Liberian-flagged vessel that assisted the Coast Guard yesterday, has since departed to continue its voyage.

“The families of those who perished in this terrible accident have our deepest sympathies and we continue to hope we can find survivors,” said Lt. Cmdr. Chris O’Neil, public affairs officer for the Seventh Coast Guard District. “This case demonstrates the dangerous nature of migrant voyages and serves as a reminder that people need to follow the controlled, safe, and legal means of migration, and not attempt these inherently dangerous voyages.”

The Valiant is a 210-foot Medium Endurance Cutter based in Miami Beach, Fla.

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