Venezuela: 4 dead, 28 missing as boat sinks in Caribbean

Sergio Conner
January 13, 2018

Rescuers off the northwestern coast of Venezuela are searching the Caribbean for survivors after a boat filled with Venezuelan migrants sank on its way to the island of Curacao.

Two days of protests and looting in western Venezuela over food shortages have left at least three people dead and 16 more injured.

Five survivors are in custody in Curacao for entering illegally, two of them in a hospital.

"It is impossible to determine how many" had perished, he said, because those who made it ashore "hid themselves because they were fearful of their situation as illegal immigrants".

"People who leave Venezuela know that there are many risks, many boats are not suitable and there is a strong possibility they will be arrested", the spokesman said.

The boat carrying 34 people departed Tuesday night, Venezuela's Regional Civil Protection director Jose Montano said, adding that two people managed to swim safely to shore in Curacao, which is about 45 miles (70 kilometers) away at its closest point.

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Curacao's coastguard have reported a growing number of vessels making the risky journey from Venezuela which is mired in a severe economic crisis.

He said officers discovered the four bodies Wednesday morning.

Luis Stefanelli, a member of Venezuela's congress, said passengers of the small boat were all under the age of 35.

His government contends that smuggling of products out of Venezuela to neighboring countries and islands is one of the causes of the severe shortage of food and other basic products plaguing the South American nation.

President Nicolas Maduro last week ordered a halt to all air and sea travel to the islands of Curacao, Bonaire and Aruba, in order to prevent smuggling of Venezuelan goods by what he called "mafias".

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