At least 11 dead after boat capsizes off Puerto Rico

US officials say most of the survivors were from Haiti or the Dominican Republic

This photo released by the US Coast Guard District shows people standing on a capsized boat as some of its passengers are pulled up on to a rescue boat, top, in the open waters northwest of Puerto Rico. AP
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At least 11 people have died after their boat, which was carrying an unknown number of people, overturned off the coast of Puerto Rico, the US coastguard said on Thursday.

“As of 6pm Thursday [2200 GMT], responding partner agency units have rescued 31 survivors, 11 female and 20 male,” said the coastguard in a tweet.

A US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) representative told AFP that boat overturned 16 kilometres north of Desecheo Island, an uninhabited US territory between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Most of the survivors were from Haiti or the Dominican Republic, the CBP representative said.

The US coastguard said that the vessel was believed to have been “taking part in an illegal voyage”.

Shortly before noon, a CBP helicopter spotted the boat and a number of people in the water who appeared not to be wearing life jackets.

Several rescue helicopters were dispatched and a coastguard vessel was diverted to assist in the recovery.

The coastguard also noted that CBP and Puerto Rican units were responding to assist in the recovery effort.

In March, hundreds of Haitians in sailboats reached Florida's coast while more than 100 were intercepted off the Bahamas by the US coastguard.

Updated: May 13, 2022, 10:43 PM