Cruise ship rescues Carib boaters

A Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based cruise ship says it rescued six Caribbean nationals off the coast of the Bahamas after their fishing vessel caught fire and sunk on the evening of Jul. 11.

Samantha Poole, the hotel director for the Discovery Sun, said the distressed boaters had been clinging to floating debris for more than an hour when crew members pulled the two women and four men onboard. The rescued boaters were not wearing life vests, she said.

Poole said the boaters are of Jamaican, Haitian and Cuban descent, and that the women’s ages are 25 and 38, and the men’s are 24, 31, 40, and 45.

Poole said the rescues, who suffered second degree burns in the boat fire, were given a cabin and medical treatment on the Discovery Sun while ship officials waited for US officials to arrive.

“All incidents, such as these, are reported to the U.S. Coast Guard, and all will be inspected by U.S. immigration also,” Poole said.

“After that, we really don’t know what will happen, but we will assist them and return them to Grand Bahama Island,” she added.

The U.S. Coast Guard confirmed on the night of Jul. 11 that it had sent a ship to the Discovery Sun to retrieve the six rescued passengers.

Spokeswoman Sabrina Elgammal said Coast Guard officials plan to embargo and interview the rescued boaters.

According to Poole, the rescued boaters were out fishing for multiple hours when their fishing boat burst into flames.

At about 6:00 p.m., a personal aircraft reported to Freeport Harbor on Grand Bahama Island that a ship was burning about 57.5 miles off the coast of Port Everglades, Ft. Lauderdale, Poole said.

The Discovery Sun, which was on its daily return trip from Grand Bahama to Port Everglades, was quickly sent to assist the distressed ship, Poole said.

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