Dozens of migrants jump ship as Coast Guard approaches; 3 dead
By Rafael A. Olmeda
South Florida Sun Sentinel
12:11 PM EDT, October 31, 2008
A boat carrying migrants from the Dominican Republic was spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard near Fisher Island [Miami] this morning, prompting more than two dozen people to jump into the water in a desperate bid to reach the mainland, officials said.
Three of those would-be migrants did not survive.
Official accounts differ as the investigation and the search for survivors is continuing. The Coast Guard reported it had rescued three people from the water who had possibly jumped from a 30-foot vessel near Fisher Island. Seven people were still on board the vessel, which carried a Dominican flag.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue spokesman Lt. Arnold Piedrahita said survivors were reporting up to 30 people on board the vessel before the Coast Guard arrived on scene. In addition to the three dead, Piedrahita said, 12 survivors were on board a Coast Guard cutter, three were taken to a hospital for treatement and four were in the custody of immigration officials.
"When they saw the Coast Guard approaching, they started jumping off and trying to swim to shore," said Piedrahita. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was called to the scene at about 8:21 a.m.
Fire Rescue and Coast Guard boats are continuing to search the waters for other survivors, Piedrahita said.
Earlier this morning, a Coast Guard spokesman said a total of 28 people had been pulled from the water by rescuers from various agencies.
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