US Coast Guard searching for 39 people after boat capsizes off Florida coast

More than three dozen people remained unaccounted for Tuesday night after a boat en route from the Bahamas capsized off Florida’s Atlantic coast on Saturday night.

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According to The New York Times, rescuers did not learn of the catastrophe until Tuesday morning when a boater, described by the U.S. Coast Guard as a “good Samaritan,” found a man clinging to the overturned vessel.

In a series of Tuesday tweets, the Coast Guard referred to the incident as a “suspected human smuggling venture” that went awry when it encountered inclement weather that capsized the boat about 45 miles east of the Fort Pierce Inlet.

“Time is of the essence,” Coast Guard spokesman Jose Hernandez said in a prepared statement.

Crews continued searching late Tuesday, with several aircraft scouring waters from the Bahamas to the Florida coast, but no other survivors or bodies have been located, USA Today reported.

According to the newspaper, the survivor said none of the 39 other people onboard the vessel were wearing life preservers.

Tuesday’s search came after at least 31 people were rescued from the water on Friday when their boat capsized five miles west of Bimini, the Times reported, citing the Coast Guard and the Royal Bahamas Defense Force.

The Coast Guard patrols the waters around Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba and the Bahamas, USA Today reported.

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