SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — At least five migrants drowned and another 66 were rescued on Thursday after a suspected human smuggling boat dropped the group off in waters near an uninhabited island west of Puerto Rico, officials said.
Federal and local authorities searched the area near Mona Island for several hours but have since determined that no additional people were missing based on interviews with survivors, U.S. Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told The Associated Press.
At least 41 men and 25 women survived, including two children, he said, adding that none had any urgent medical issues. The age and nationality of those who died and were rescued were not immediately known.
Jeffrey Quiñones, spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said he was not immediately able to provide any information.
The boat carrying the migrants fled the scene, and it was unclear how many people were on board at that time, Castrodad said.
The incident is the latest in a string of deadly voyages across the northern Caribbean carrying mostly Haitian migrants fleeing their country amid a spike in gang-related killings and kidnappings.
On Sunday, authorities in the Bahamas recovered the bodies of 17 migrants and rescued 25 others after their boat capsized. A criminal investigation is ongoing.
Meanwhile, in May, 11 Haitian women drowned and 38 others were saved after their boat sank near Puerto Rico.
“This is happening every day,” Castrodad said. “Everyone runs the same risk and same danger.”