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Cubans reach Fla. in homemade boat

Aug. 8, 2012 at 5:49 PM

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla., Aug. 8 (UPI) -- Eighteen Cubans in a makeshift boat powered by a Russian car engine arrived in Palm Beach County in South Florida early Wednesday, authorities said.

The group came ashore on Singer Island, one of the barrier islands that run up Florida's east coast, the Palm Beach Post reported. Frank Miller, in charge of the U.S. Border Patrol station in West Palm Beach, said the agency was notified of the landing between 1 and 2 a.m.

Miller said the 16 men and two women believed to have been on the boat were being questioned by federal authorities Wednesday. Under U.S. policy, Cubans who land on U.S. soil are automatically granted asylum.

Authorities described the boat as a homemade fishing vessel with a crude rudder and sail in addition to the engine.

Cuba is about 100 miles south of the tip of Florida.

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