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Dozens of people missing after boat capsizes off Florida

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Dozens of people missing after boat capsizes off Florida

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The US Coast Guard said it was looking for 39 people after the boat carrying them from the Bahamas capsized off the Atlantic coast of Florida on Saturday night.

Rescuers learned of the accident on Tuesday morning when a boater, described as a “good Samaritan”, found a man clinging to the capsized vessel, the coast guard said.

The man said he had been hanging on to the boat since Saturday night when he left Bimini, Bahamas, and started heading north before falling in extreme weather conditions.

A photo posted by the Coast Guard on Twitter showed the man straddling the hull of the boat.

The boat capsized about 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet, the Coast Guard said. It was not immediately clear on Tuesday what type of boat it was. No one on board was wearing a life jacket, the Coast Guard said.

“This is a suspected human trafficking business,” the Coast Guard said. said on Twitter.

Cutters and helicopters searched the area for signs of survivors, the Coast Guard said. Fort Pierce Inlet is about 156 miles northwest of Bimini.

Officials said the search was complicated because rescuers began days after the capsizing and must cover a wide area stretching from Bimini to Fort Pierce.

“Time is running out,” said Jose Hernandez, a Coast Guard spokesman.

Tuesday’s search effort came after at least 31 people were rescued from the water on Friday when their boat capsized five miles west of Bimini, according to the Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force.

The Coast Guard said on Twitter that ships regularly patrol the waters around Haiti, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas “to ensure safety at sea”. The agency warned people not to board dangerous boats.

“Sailing the seas on overloaded and unseaworthy vessels is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of life,” the Coast Guard said.

Vimal Patel contributed report.

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