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1 body found after boat capsized off Florida, 38 still missing

1 body found after boat capsized off Florida, 38 still missing
Image of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Ibis' crew searching for 39 people off Fort Pierce Inlet, Florida on Tuesday. The Coast Guard said Wednesday that one body was found. Photo courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard/EPA-EFE

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- Coast Guard officials said Wednesday that one body has been recovered in the Atlantic Ocean after a small boat capsized near Fort Pierce, Fla., where authorities believed some 40 people were being smuggled into the United States.

One survivor was found clinging to the boat's hull Tuesday morning. The Coast Guard said the boat left Bimini in the Bahamas over the weekend but ran into inclement weather, leading to it capsizing. There has been no sign of the 38 people believed to still be missing.

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"It is dire," Coast Guard Capt. Jo-Ann F. Burdian said, according to WTVJ-TV. "The longer they remain in the water, exposed to the marine environment, with every moment that passes, it becomes much more dire and more unlikely [that survivors will be found]."

A commercial tugboat captain was the first to spot the capsized 25-foot boat about 40 miles east of the Fort Pierce Inlet Tuesday morning, setting off a wide-ranging rescue mission that included the Coast Guard and Navy along with state and local agencies.

A spike recently in maritime migration to Florida has been attributed to turmoil in Cuba and Haiti.

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"There's no indication of their nationalities, but we do know the boat departed from Bimini," Burdian said, according to the Miami Herald.

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