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Coast Guard to suspend search for 34 missing from boat capsized off Florida

By Doug Cunningham

Jan. 27 (UPI) -- The U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday it plans to suspend at sunset the search for dozens of people who went missing after a boat capsized off the coast of Florida.

Four additional bodies have been found in the incident involving an alleged human smuggling operation along the Florida coast. In all, five bodies have been recovered.

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"The decision to suspend is really a very, very complicated one," Coast Guard Capt. Jo-Ann Burdian said. "We don't think it's likely that anyone else has survived."

The Coast Guard said a 25-foot boat capsized in severe weather Saturday night after leaving Bimini in the Bahamas. One survivor was found clinging to the boat's hull.

The Coast Guard said some 40 people were being smuggled into the United States when the boat capsized. A commercial tugboat captain was first to spot the capsized boat roughly 40 miles east of Fort Pierce Florida Tuesday morning.

The rescue effort involved the Coast Guard and the U.S. Navy as well as state and local agencies.

Capt. Burdian said at least three ships and eight aircraft have searched an area roughly the size of Massachusetts between the Florida straits and Port Canaveral.

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