The United States Coast Guard rescued three Cubans, two men and one woman, who were stranded for 33 days on a deserted island in the Bahamas called Anguilla Cay.
The group survived eating coconuts, mice, and seafood for nearly five weeks, and caught the attention of the Coast Guard, who had left the Florida Keys archipelago on a routine mission with makeshift flags, as a member of that arm of the armed forces revealed to the local Sun Sentinel forces Newspaper. The Castaways revealed to the Coast Guard that even though they did have something to eat, if they were stuck on the island for longer, they might not survive due to the lack of drinking water.
The helicopter pilot who found them, Mike Allert, revealed to WPLG television that the people were using flags to signal them, and that they had also built a large cross and improvised shelter. After a US Coast Guard team signaled the group on Monday, they left water, food and a radio on site. A crew returned to the island on Tuesday to rescue the individuals.
The three Cubans were able to swim to the island after the boat they were sailing in because of the unrest at sea, Lt. Justin Dougherty on the WPLG channel. After surviving in harsh conditions for a long time, the Castaways were “very happy” when they were rescued, Mike Allert stated in an interview with the ABC Good Morning America program.
Migrants Trying to Reach the US?
NCO Brandon Murray told the Sun Sentinel newspaper that it was not yet clear whether the people were migrants trying to get to the United States by boat or whether they were just lost at sea.
After their rescue, the three Cubans were taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center in Florida, none of whom had serious injuries. On Wednesday, the people in Pompano Beach, Florida, were arrested by the U.S. Immigration and Border Control Service (ICE) and are now awaiting a hearing with an immigration judge, according to the WPLG channel.
“That is extraordinary. It was wonderful. I don’t know how they did it. I’m surprised they were in such good shape, ”Justin Dougherty told the same broadcaster.
One of the crew members involved in the rescue was surprised that the people had managed to “survive for so long”. The BBC told Lieutenant Riley Beecher that “something was noticed” during the patrol. When the Coast Guard helicopter flew over the site at a lower altitude, they discovered that people were in danger on the island.
The crew was not equipped for an immediate rescue so they left supplies and a radio in place to communicate with the castaways. “Unfortunately there wasn’t anyone who spoke fluent Spanish, but with my poor Spanish I could tell that they were from Cuba and needed medical help. They stressed that they have been on the island for 33 days, ”explained Riley Beecher.
“I can’t remember a time when we rescued people who were stuck on an island for more than a month. This is a debut for me, ”said another Coast Guard member, quoted by The Guardian.