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18 Cuban migrants rescued off US coast, 9 died on journey

18 Cuban migrants rescued off US coast, 9 died on journey

WASHINGTON – A cruise ship has saved 18 Cuban migrants off the coast of US state of Florida after they spent 22 days at sea and lost nine others on the journey, US media reported Saturday.

A Coast Guard cruise ship spotted the migrants’ vessel west of Marco Island in Florida and rescued the migrants on Friday. The survivors on-board suffered from severe dehydration, reported WFTV, an ABC-affiliated television station located in Orlando, Florida.

The migrants told the Coast Guard they initially set off with 27 people, but nine didn’t survive the journey.

“Our deepest condolences to the families of the nine people who recently did lose their lives,” said Capt. Mark Gordon, chief of enforcement for the Coast Guard’s 7th District.

“Unfortunately, tragedy is all too common when taking to the sea in homemade vessels with no safety or navigation equipment. The dangerous waters of the Florida Straights can be unforgiving for the unprepared on ill-advised and illegal voyages,” Gordon said.

Coast Guard officials said they have seen a steady increase in the number of people attempting to cross the waters separating Cuba and the southeastern United States since President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro announced a normalizing of relations between the two countries in December 2014.

In February alone, 269 Cuban migrants attempted to reach the United States, according to the Coast Guard.

“Immigration politics have not changed and we urge people not to take to the ocean in unseaworthy vessels,” Gordon said, adding “It is illegal and very dangerous.”(PNA/Xinhua)

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