San Juan, Puerto Rico — At least five migrants drowned and 66 others were rescued on Thursday after a suspected human smuggling boat dropped the group in waters near an uninhabited island west of Puerto Rico, officials said. responsible.
Federal and local authorities were still at the scene looking for survivors or others who may have drowned, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told The Associated Press. It was not immediately known how many people were on board the boat.
Castrodad said 41 men and 25 women survived, including two children. The ages and nationalities of those who died and were rescued were not immediately known.
Jeffrey Quiñones, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, did not immediately return a message for comment.
The boat carrying the migrants fled the scene and it was unclear how many people were on board at the time, Castrodad said.
The incident is the latest in a series of deadly voyages across the northern Caribbean carrying mostly Haitian migrants fleeing their country amid a spike in gang-related killings and kidnappings.
Bahamian authorities on Sunday recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and rescued 25 others after their boat sank. A criminal investigation is underway.
Meanwhile, in May, 11 Haitian women drowned and 38 others were rescued after their boat sank near Puerto Rico.
“It happens every day,” Castrodad said. “Everyone runs the same risk and the same danger.”