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Five migrants die, 66 rescued near Puerto Rico waters

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At least five migrants drowned and another 66 were rescued after a suspected human smuggling boat dropped the group off in waters near an uninhabited island west of Puerto Rico, officials said on Thursday.

Federal and local authorities have determined there are no more victims based on interviews with survivors, US Coast Guard spokesman Ricardo Castrodad told the Associated Press.

Castrodad said 41 men and 25 women survived, including two children. The age and nationality of those who died and were rescued were not immediately known.

The US Coast Guard said the migrants were dropped off near Punta Arenas in Mona Island.

“The smugglers basically forced the migrants to disembark, it appears that five of the migrants drowned in the process,” Jeffrey Quinones, spokesman for US Customs and Border Protection, told Reuters.

Castrodad also said that the boat carrying the migrants fled the scene, and it was unclear how many people were on board at that time.

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.”

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