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Coast Guard searching for 39 people after boat overturns off Fort Pierce

Officials suspect boat part of human smuggling operation
Man rescued from overturned boat off Fort Pierce, Jan. 25, 2022
Posted at 1:48 PM, Jan 25, 2022

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — U.S. Coast Guard officials said they are looking for 39 people missing since Saturday after their boat overturned off the Florida coast.

Officials said a good Samaritan rescued a man at about 8 a.m. Tuesday clinging to an overturned 25-foot vessel 45 miles east of the Fort Pierce Inlet.

The man who was rescued said he left with 39 others on the boat Saturday night from Bimini, Bahamas.

He said their vessel encountered bad weather and rough seas, causing the boat to overturn. No one aboard was wearing life jackets, according to the survivor.

Officials said the survivor was being treated for dehydration and sun exposure.

The Coast Guard said Tuesday evening that the search from the air and the water will continue overnight for the 39 missing people. So far, the search has covered an area the size of Rhode Island.

It is suspected the boat was part of a human smuggling operation.