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The crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Heriberto Hernandez rescued 34 Haitians on Monday after smugglers abandoned them on the rocky cliffs of Monito Island, Puerto Rico.
A Coast Guard statement said the rescue was part of ongoing multi-agency efforts supporting Operation Caribbean Guard and the Caribbean Border Interagency Group (CBIG).
The Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources sounded the alert regarding the stranded individuals.
Afterwards, the aircrew of a Coast Guard Ocean Sentry aircraft confirmed seeing multiple campfires on Monito.
According to the Coast Guard, the cutter Heriberto Hernandez diverted to investigate and located the group of stranded people.
During daylight, the cutter launched a small boat to approach Monito as the Haitians made their way down to the lowest point of the rocky cliff.
Once the boat was in position, each person on the cliff took their turn jumping into the water from where the small boat crew safely recovered them.
The Coast Guard said the rescue lasted five hours.
It also said once onboard cutter Heriberto Hernandez the Haitians received food, water, and primary medical care.
“The survivors, 26 men, seven women and one male minor, were transferred to Ramey Sector U.S Border Patrol agents in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico,” the Coast Guard disclosed.
Haiti is experiencing alarming killings and kidnappings by gangs that control strategic areas of the country.
As a result, Haitians have been attempting to flee their country in crowded boats.
Several have died by drowning.
One official told the media earlier this year that danger at sea is less than the danger at home for those who take the risk.