39 missing after suspected smuggling boat capsizes off Florida

The US Coast Guard is currently searching for 39 people, following a capsizing off the coast of Florida.

Rescue crews were alerted on Tuesday, after a man was spotted clinging to the hull of an upturned vessel around 72km east of Fort Pierce Inlet.

The survivor was rescued by a good samaritan and brought to a local hospital for symptoms of dehydration and sun exposure. He reported that noone on board was wearing life jackets, and that the boat had capsized in “severe weather”.

The Coast Guard begins the search on Tuesday

The search is being led by the Miami Coast Guard using multiple ships and aircraft, the agency reported on its Twitter.

US officials say the boat may have been part of a “human smuggling venture”.

Coast Guard cutter crews have so far searched more than 1,300 square miles, and the agency says its air and surface crews are continuing to search for further survivors in the water.

The area was experiencing a severe cold front at the time of the capsize, with 17-23 mph winds and 7-9 foot seas, according to the Coast Guard, which issued a small craft advisory warning.

By Tuesday afternoon, no further survivors had been found.

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