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Coast Guard suspends search for survivors in Mona Passage

Coast Guard suspends search for survivors in Mona Passage
Archive image: A Coast Guard C-27J Spartan aircrew, assigned to Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento, flies along the California Coastline during an area of familiarization training, Monday, Feb. 6, 2018.
The C-27Js are outfitted with weather radar and communications equipment capable of supporting transport and other Coast Guard missions.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Lt. Scott Handlin.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – The Coast Guard suspends at 10 p.m. Sunday the four-day search for additional survivors of a capsized vessel in Mona Passage waters between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

Rescued are 38 survivors, 36 Haitian and two Dominican Republic nationals. Rescue crews also recovered 11 people deceased, whose nationalities are yet to be determined.

“Our most heartfelt condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who did not survive or remain missing, our prayers are with them,” said Capt. Gregory H. Magee, Commander of Coast Guard Sector San Juan.​ “I commend all the partner agency crews who responded in this case, their bravery and actions helped save 38 lives from almost certain death, as well as, the air, surface and land-based crews involved in the search.​ These crews have done their utmost to ensure that if there were anymore survivors, that they would have had the best chance to be rescued.​ Unfortunately, as the threat of illegal voyages continues, we could be forced to respond to similar events in the future. The dangers of these voyages are real, we see them everyday, people aboard grossly overloaded makeshift boats taking on water in high seas with little or no lifesaving equipment.​ These people are at the mercy of ruthless smugglers who are not concerned with their lives or safety. To anyone thinking of taking part of an illegal voyage, don’t take to the sea! It could just save your life.”

Coast Guard watchstanders in Sector San Juan received a communication at approximately 11:47 a.m. Thursday reporting that the aircrew of a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aircraft had sighted a capsized vessel with people in the water who did not appear to be wearing life jackets.

Coast Guard suspends search for survivors in Mona Passage
Archive image – A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew prepares to launch and deploy to Mobile, Ala., Aug. 29, 2012.
The MH-60T jayhawk aircrews, deployed in Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, was very important assets in the search and rescue of the survivors in the Mona Passage.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Crystalynn A. Kneen

Coast Guard watchstanders directed the launch of an MH-60T Jayhawk Medium-Range Recovery Helicopter (MRR) aircrew from Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen and diverted the Coast Guard Cutter (USCGC) Joseph Tezanos, while Customs and Border Protection Air and Marine (CBP-AMO) and Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units also responded to rescue survivors.

Rescue crews involved in the search conducted 20 air and 10 surface searches, covering over 5,194 square nautical miles, an area larger than Puerto Rico.​ ​

Rescue assets involved in the search:

  • Puerto Rico Police Joint Forces of Rapid Action marine units

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