A boat with an estimated 35 passengers from Venezuela has sunk in the Caribbean Sea and most of those aboard are missing, authorities said on Thursday.
A man and a woman were rescued after the ‘Yonaily Jose’ boat sank in rough seas on its way to the island of Trinidad early Wednesday. A rescue team continues to search for others who may have drowned, an official from the country’s civil protection agency said.
The official confirmed the incident on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly.
In recent years, an estimated 3.7 million Venezuelans have fled the crisis-wracked country where a political struggle is now playing out between U.S.-backed opposition lawmaker Juan Guaidū and socialist President Nicolas Maduro.
Most of Venezuela’s migrants travel by land into neighbouring Colombia and Brazil, but others overload fishing boats to cross the Caribbean waters for nearby islands.
The missing boat overturned in strong waves near the island of Patos, roughly 5 miles (8km) off the Venezuelan coast. Seven security force vessels were searching the waters for the missing, the official said.
The online news website Daily Express quoted a Venezuelan living in Trinidad who said her sister could not be located.
The 21-year-old was headed to the island to flee Venezuela because she said it lacked food and hospital care.