MIAMI (CBSMiami) – A body was recovered in the search for more than three dozen people believed to be missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Florida.
“We did recover one deceased body who we transferred to shore today in Fort Pierce and we continue to search for other survivors,” said U.S. Coast Captain Jo-Ann Burdian, Sector Miami Commander.READ MORE: Miami-Dade Launches Building Blocks Fund For Affordable Housing
Thirty-eight boaters are still missing.
In a news conference on Wednesday morning, the Coast Guard also said they had spotted a debris field with items that appear to have belonged to the missing boaters and they’re going to be searching in that area on Wednesday.
So far, the sole survivor of the boat was a man found clinging to the overturned hull of a 25-foot vessel abaout 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet on Tuesday morning. He was spotted by a good Samaritan.
“That good Samaritan, who’s a commercial tug and barge, stopped and rescued a person off of the hull of that vessel,” said Burdian.
The name of the ship that rescued the survivor is ‘Signet Intruder’. It is part of the Signet Maritime Corporation.READ MORE: Saturday Is 'Kids To Park Day', Get Outside, Have Some Fun
The man told the Coast Guard he along with 39 others left Bimini on Saturday evening and ran into bad weather causing their boat to capsize Sunday morning. He said he was the only one wearing a life jacket.
“In cases like this, small vessels, overloaded, inexperienced operators, in bad weather is incredibly dangerous,” said Burdian.
The Coast Guard believes the trip was part of a human smuggling operation.
It’s been nearly four days since the boat set sail from Bimini and the Coast Guard said they will continue their search effort in hopes of locating the other boaters.
“Realistically it depends on the person. What we understand of the event is the vessel capsized because of prevailing weather conditions and the loading of the vessel. Without life jackets, anyone is disadvantaged to survive in the water. Life jackets save lives, no matter what the circumstance,” said Burdian.
The Coast Guard said the man who survived is being interviewed by the Department of Homeland Security.MORE NEWS: Florida Man Who Killed Co-Worker Over Affair Gets Life In Prison
Migrants have long used the islands of the Bahamas as a steppingstone to reach Florida and the United States. But the vessels are often dangerously overloaded and prone to capsizing. There have been thousands of deaths over the years.