At least sevenMexican migrants drowned when two boats capsized in shallow but rough waters off the coast of San Diego, Mexican officials said Monday.
The Mexican consulate in San Diego said in a news release that the initial identification was based on records obtained during the recovery of human remains. The nationality of the eighth person is not known.
The consulate did not provide age, gender or other information about those killed in the deadliest maritime migrant smuggling operation in US waters. According to rescue authorities, all are adults.
A Spanish-speaking woman who called 911 said she was among eight people in one vessel that made it to shore and 15 in another boat that capsized. Authorities found two sunken boats in shallow water in deep fog on Saturday.
The Coast Guard suspended the search for the remains on Sunday. Survivors, including the women who called 911, were able to flee to land. Authorities do not know his whereabouts.
Multiple agencies, including lifeguards from the San Diego Fire Department, Customs Border Protection and the US Coast Guard initially responded to the scene, but high tides made it difficult for rescue officials to access the beach. They were forced to walk through “knee-to-waist deep water,” according to fire officials.
“After a few hundred yards, beach lifeguards reached dry sand and then began to find lifeless bodies and two overturned parakeets strewn over an area of about 400 yards,” fire officials said Sunday.
The Border Patrol reports hundreds of known smuggling attempts along the California coast each year. Mexico’s consul general in San Diego, Carlos González Gutierrez, warned Monday against dangerous travel.
“Those planning to cross the border into the United States by land or sea should be aware that human traffickers will take advantage of their need to obtain illicit money, distort reality, create false expectations, and face high-risk situations where they may lose their lives. Can,” he said.