May 13, 2009 / 9:44 PM / 11 years ago

Eight dead in suspected migrant capsize off Florida

MIAMI, May 13 (Reuters) - U.S. Coast Guard crews pulled 16 survivors and eight bodies, believed to be from a capsized migrant boat, from the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida on Wednesday.

A passing boater spotted the people floating in the water about 15 miles (24 km) off Boynton Beach, a town about 30 miles (50 km) north of Fort Lauderdale, the Coast Guard said.

The agency was told as many as 28 people were in the water.

"We have recovered 24 people, eight of whom are deceased," Coast Guard spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.

Survivors were being taken to local hospitals.

Reports from the rescuers at the scene indicated that the people might be Haitian and Bahamian migrants and that the vessel carrying them capsized and sank around 2 a.m. on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said.

The Coast Guard sent out three boats, a jet and two helicopters to the rescue scene.

Caribbean migrants, mostly from Haiti and Cuba, frequently try to make the passage from their homelands to Florida in search of better living conditions.

The U.S. Coast Guard has intercepted more than 2,600 migrants in the last seven months including about 1,400 Haitians, 600 Dominicans and 500 Cubans. (Reporting by Jim Loney; Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Cynthia Osterman)

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