By Team

MIAMI — The US Coast Guard announced Thursday evening they have suspended the search for the 34 people missing at sea off the Florida coast.

A single survivor was rescued by a good Samaritan on Tuesday, at 8 a.m., from a capsized 25-foot vessel approximately 45 miles east of Fort Pierce Inlet.

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The survivor was brought to a local hospital to be treated for symptoms of dehydration and sun exposure and was subsequently transferred to Homeland Security Investigations Special Agents for further investigation.

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The Coast Guard said the survivor reported he left Bimini, Bahamas with 39 other people Saturday night and encountered severe weather, causing the vessel to capsize Sunday morning. The survivor also reported that no one in the group was wearing a life jacket.
Coast Guard rescue crews recovered five bodies during their search and rescue operation.

“Unfortunately, we have come to the most difficult time in any search and rescue case and that is the point at which we decide when to cease actively searching,” said Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian, Coast Guard Sector Miami commander. “After careful consideration of all available information including weather conditions, number of people that went in the water without life jackets, time elapsed since the date of the accident, and an unrelenting search in an area bigger than Massachusetts, it’s with a heavy heart that I have decided to suspend the search”

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“On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the United States Coast Guard contacted HSI to advise they had initiated a search and rescue operation on a suspected smuggling venture involving the loss of life,” said Anthony Salisbury, HSI in Miami special agent in charge. “HSI immediately responded and opened a parallel criminal investigation while the search and rescue mission was ongoing. As of right now this is still an ongoing investigation being pursued by HSI and its federal, state, local and foreign partners.” Team