SAN DIEGO, Calif. (AP) — At least eight people were killed and one capsized when two smuggling boats neared the coast of San Diego, officials said, and crews were searching for seven more victims Sunday.
According to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Richard Brahm, a woman on one of the bunga-style boats called 911 late Saturday.
“The woman who called said there were 15 people on the overturned boat, but that’s just an estimate,” Bram said.
The Coast Guard and San Diego Fire Rescue crews retrieved eight bodies from the water, but thick fog hampered the search for more victims. A Coast Guard cutter scoured the area early Sunday morning, and officials hoped to get helicopters airborne when the weather improved, Brahm said.
San Diego Fire-Rescue Deputy Chief Daniel Eddy said there was a long debris field along Blacks Beach. Blocks Beach is jointly owned by the City and State of San Diego. The stretch of sand is also known as Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach.
Coast Guard Petty Officer Eddie Berrios confirmed eight dead and crews are searching for at least seven others. He didn’t know what kind of boats they were, but pangas — small open boats with outboard engines used in smuggling operations — often came ashore there.
Brahma did not know if any of the people in the second boat were injured or if they were arrested by the Border Patrol.
It is not clear if anyone has been arrested and the nationalities of the passengers are not known. Illegal crossings have increased under President Joe Biden, with many immigrants turning themselves into Border Patrol agents and released to the United States to pursue their cases in immigration court.
A pandemic rule scheduled to expire on May 11 denies migrants the chance to seek asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of Covid-19, but enforcement has fallen disproportionately on Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans and El Salvadorans, as they are the only nationalities recognized by Mexico. Take it back. As a result, people from those four countries are trying to evade capture, knowing they are likely to be deported under a public health provision known as Title 42 authority. Mexico recently began repatriating Cubans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans under Title 42.
Associated Press writer Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.