3 killed, 27 hospitalised after boat capsizes off San Diego

3 killed, 27 hospitalised after boat capsizes off San Diego

Just last Thursday, Customs and Border Protection agents intercepted a panga 11 miles off the coast of Point Loma that was carrying 21 Mexican citizens suspected of trying to enter the USA illegally, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Lifeguard Chief James Gartland said the maritime crash was probably "one of the bigger vessel accidents" the region has seen.

SDFD Lifeguard Services Lieutenant Rick Romero told reporters rescuers pulled seven people from the waves including the three migrants who died.

The person believed to be operating the boat is in custody, officials said Sunday. More than 30 people were on board. A breakdown of their ages, genders and nationalities was not immediately available.

Sunday's incident comes four days since federal authorities detained 21 Mexican nationals after a panga boat was stopped off about eleven miles west of the Point Loma shoreline.

"There are people in the water, drowning, getting sucked out the rip current there", he said.

Three people have been killed and 27 are in hospital after a wooden boat capsized during a possible human smuggling operation just off the US San Diego coast.

Twenty-four people survived, four died and one person remains in critical condition, according to a news release from the US Coast Guard 11th District PA Detachment San Diego. A total of 29 people had been accounted for, although it is unclear if there are others who have yet to be rescued.

San Diego Fire Rescue Department representative Monica Munoz told CNN most of the people taken to hospitals were "non-emergent" but three people were in "somewhat to very urgent status". "All of these illegal crossings at sea are inherently unsafe, and we have seen too many turn from risky to tragic as smugglers sacrifice the safety of those on board for the sake of profits".

The Coast Guard says it will continue to search the waters off the coast of San Diego throughout the night. Medics whisked some people away on gurneys, while others walked. "But our agents are with many of them at the hospital".

Mr Ysea said when he arrived at the scene near the Cabrillo National Monument there was a "large debris field" of broken wood and other items in the choppy waters. The boat quickly broke apart as the waves smashed it into the rocky shore.

Stephenson called the smuggling attempt during Sunday's conditions a "very risky scenario".

"The smugglers don't really care about the people they're exploiting".

There were life preservers on board, but it wasn't known how many or whether any passengers were wearing them, officials said.

So far this fiscal year, the Border Patrol has documented 157 maritime smuggling events in the San Diego area, according to CBP officials. Stephenson said the cabin cruiser was not on their radar.

The group had reportedly been riding in a low-slung panga, a boat often used for smuggling.

"Smugglers look for [any] vulnerability they think there is", Stephenson said. "To them, these people are just commodities".

Mr Stephenson said there had been a 92% increase in the number of apprehensions linked to smuggling by sea in 2020, compared with the previous year.

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