The Coast Guard said 88 Haitian nationals who were rescued from a sinking freighter were returned to Haiti
BY SERGIO R. BUSTOS
Another large group of Haitian nationals was repatriated to Haiti after Coast Guard officials said they were rescued from a sinking 50-foot sail freighter discovered about 45 miles north of the country’s Isle de Tortue.
Eighty-eight Haitian nationals were returned to Cap Haitien on Tuesday, according to Coast Guard officials, who said they found the “grossly overweighted” freighter about 4 p.m. Saturday in the waters off Haiti. Those aboard were mostly men, but included 21 women, three boys and one girl. The ages of the children were not disclosed.
The men, women and children were then taken to a Coast Guard cutter, where they were given food, water and medical attention.
Last week, the Coast Guard said it repatriated 78 Haitian nationals after Bahamian authorities found the group in an overloaded 30-foot freighter just 13 miles west of Great Exuma Island. That was the first reported incident at sea involving the repatriation of Haitian nationals since the country’s devastating earthquake on Jan. 12.
U.S. Coast Guard officials said they see no immediate signs that Haitians are attempting to illegally leave the country in the quake’s aftermath, which has left millions homeless.
During fiscal year 2010, which began Oct. 1, 2009, the Coast Guard has interdicted 210 Haitian nationals. The Coast Guard interdicted 912 Haitian nationals during the same period in fiscal year 2009.
“We remain alert to the possibility of increased illegal migration from Haiti and have increased our patrol presence in the Caribbean to deter unsafe and illegal migration and to rescue those who depart in unseaworthy vessels,” the Coast Guard said in a statement released Tuesday in connection with the latest group of Haitians caught at sea.