The United States Coast Guard pulled 176 Haitians from an overloaded, unseaworthy boat as it approached the coast of Florida, officials said late on Monday, amid a sharp rise in Haitians fleeing the crisis-stricken Caribbean nation.
The rescue effort unfolded on Monday, after US border and marine officials spotted the 18-metre (60-foot) vessel some 40 kilometres (25 miles) northeast of the Bahamas, the Coast Guard said in a statement.
“It is extremely dangerous to navigate the Florida Straits in an unseaworthy vessel, especially off the Florida Keys where the water is extra treacherous with shoals and reefs,” said Chief Warrant Officer James Kinney.
“Thanks to the quick coordination among so many different agencies, no lives were lost during this interdiction.”
Crews worked with federal, state and local law enforcement officers to take the people into custody, after providing personal flotation devices to those on the boat, which did not have basic life-saving equipment or navigation lights, officials said.
Ten people were taken to hospital with symptoms of dehydration.
The rescue comes amid a marked increase in migration from Haiti, which has been hit by a series of crises in recent months, including an increase in gang-linked violence and kidnappings in the aftermath of the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise.
In August, Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake that killed more than 2,000 people and destroyed homes in the country’s southwest.
The country also has been suffering from crippling fuel shortages that began in October after a coalition of gangs blocked access to fuel terminals, forcing some businesses and h