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Old 22-08-2005, 22:47   #1
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Search - 31 Lost at Sea After Shipwreck Off Florida

Coast Guard Searching for Up to 31 Cubans

MIAMI (AP) - The Coast Guard searched the Florida Straits on Monday after three Cubans rescued at sea said they had been aboard a boat that sank with 31 others aboard.

The three were rescued Sunday about 30 miles north of Matanzas, Cuba, by a merchant ship and taken back to Cuba, where they told officials that they were on a 28-foot boat that sank. The Cuban government notified the U.S. Coast Guard, which began its search about 50 miles south of Key West late Sunday.

The Coast Guard said it found a capsized boat about 16 miles from where the trio were found, but it could not be determined if it was the boat they had been on. No bodies were immediately found.

Petty Officer Ryan Doss said the crew of a Coast Guard ship was looking for bodies or debris.

It wasn't known where the boat was headed, Doss said, but ``34 people in one boat is usually an indication that they were trying to enter the United States illegally,''

The boat should have been carrying 10 people, at most, he said.

Coast Guard officials said they were unaware of any Cuban ships or aircraft helping in the search, but Doss said a British navy ship, the HMS Cumberland, happened to be in the area and joined the effort on Monday.
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