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#1661: Boat filled with Haitian migrants runs aground in Florida (fwd)


Boat filled with Haitian migrants runs aground in
MIAMI (January 1, 2000 12:36 p.m. EST ) - Coast Guard officials said a
wooden boat carrying as many as 300 Haitian migrants ran aground near
Key Biscayne early Saturday. No injuries were reported. Crew members
aboard two Coast Guard cutters spotted the 60-foot vessel at 1 a.m.,
about five miles south of Key Biscayne. Spokesman Scott Carr estimated
the boat was carrying between 200 and 300 people. "We stayed with the
vessel, obviously with great concerns about it being overloaded with a
huge group of people without life jackets," Carr said. The boat ran
aground at about 2:30 a.m., about 1 1/2 miles from the Cape Florida
Lighthouse on Key Biscayne.Coast Guard spokesman Ron LaBrec said that
life jackets had been handed out and as many as 140 of the migrants had
agreed to board Coast Guard ships by mid-morning. "We are continuing to
try to talk to the people, to talk them off the boat," LaBrec said. Most
of the migrants speak Creole, so an interpreter was called. Under an
agreement the United States has with Haiti, would-be immigrants are
returned once they are intercepted. This differs from U.S. policy on
Cuban immigrants, who are generally allowed to stay if they reach