A boat carrying migrants sank and left 23 people missing just hours beforemade landfall in Florida, U.S. Border Patrol said Wednesday. Three people were later rescued and four people on the boat were able to swim to shore, officials said.
“U.S. Border Patrol agents… responded to a migrant landing in Stock Island, Florida,” Miami Chief Patrol Agent Walter Slosar said on Twitter. “Four Cuban migrants swam to shore after their vessel sank due to inclement weather.”
Three people were rescued in the water about two miles south of Boca Chica, the Coast Guard said at 3:30 p.m. They were taken to the hospital for exhaustion and dehydration.
Coast Guard air crews are searching for the 20 who are still missing.
On Tuesday, seven migrants from Cuba were taken into custody after they made it to shore in Pompano Beach, Florida, Slosar said.
“Do not risk your life by attempting this journey at sea. Storm surge along with King tide can create treacherous sea conditions even after a storm passes,” he said on Twitter on Tuesday when announcing those detentions.
Ian made landfall near Cayo Costa, Florida, on Wednesday as a major Category 4 storm — the second-strongest possible category on the, according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm strengthened Wednesday over the Gulf of Mexico as it moved toward Florida, with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph.
“Ian will cause catastrophic storm surge, winds, and flooding in the Florida peninsula soon,” the National Hurricane Center said. By early afternoon, hurricane conditions were spreading across parts of southwestern Florida, the center said.
Cruise lines areand rerouting ships because of the hurricane.