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Freighter headed to Haiti capsizes off Florida

The Coast Guard rescued nine Haitians from a disabled freighter before it sank Monday about five miles (eight kilometers) offshore.

india Updated: Jun 17, 2003 11:22 IST

The Coast Guard rescued nine Haitians from a disabled freighter before it sank Monday about five miles (eight kilometres) offshore.

The Honduran-flagged, 160-foot (48-meter) freighter was carrying rice, beans, cooking oil and other goods to Haiti when it experienced engine troubles Saturday. The ship, named the Silhouette, remained adrift for about a day before anchoring near Hollywood Beach, the Coast Guard said.

Petty Officer Danielle DeMarino said the crew notified officials early Monday that the freighter was filling with water. The Coast Guard dispatched a rescue boat from Fort Lauderdale. The eight crew members and one passenger were being interviewed Monday at the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they ask to remain in the United States, it would be up to the agency whether to return them to Haiti.

A commercial salvage vessel towed the freighter about five miles (eight kilometers) offshore, DeMarino said.

"Because it was sinking already, our goal was to get it into deeper waters so it would not hinder navigation," she said. Once released, the ship sank.

The marine safety office was investigating the debris field and a sheen of diesel fuel approximately half a mile (0.8 kilometres) long. Coast Guard officials said diesel fuel evaporates quickly and there should be no long-term environmental impact from the spill.

First Published: Jun 17, 2003 11:22 IST