Official Cuban media has reported that five people died and another 12 were unaccounted for after an improvised boat they were using to reach the United States (US) from Cuba sank.
The victims are thought to be migrants because serious economic crisis is fueling an unprecedented exodus from Cuba, particularly to the US.
“Five deaths have been reported,” the Cubadebate newspaper reported on its website, adding that survivors said, “the incident occurred due to strong waves.”
It said that two coastguard boats headed to the scene in response to a call for help, rescuing 11.
Witnesses reportedly said that 12 people from the boat were missing.
The report said that the migrants, all from the municipality of Cardenas, 115 kilometres (70 miles) east of the capital Havana, “left the country illegally on January 23 through Torrontela” trying to reach US territory.
The boat sank the next day.
Many Cubans have reportedly taken advantage of a visa exemption in Nicaragua, an ally of Havana, since the end of 2021 to try to reach the US through Central America.
Emigration by sea, through the Florida Straits, reportedly has also skyrocketed in recent months.
The United States Coast Guard has intercepted 5,321 Cubans at sea since October 1, compared with 6,182 in the whole year to September 2022.
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