Migrants Dead, 27 Injured as Smuggler’s Boat Flips off California Coast

Items from a boat sit on the shoreline at Cabrillo National Monument near where it capsized just off the San Diego coast. AP

Items from a boat sit on the shoreline at Cabrillo National Monument near where it capsized just off the San Diego coast. AP

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Officials in San Diego, California, report at least three migrants died and as many as 27 were injured when a human smuggler's overloaded vessel capsized off the coast.

The tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument are closed as a result.

Three people have died after a boat capsized off California.

Authorities said earlier that 27 people were hospitalized following the capsizing. Most were able to walk themselves to ambulances. However, rescuers said there were as many as 30 people involved. The captain of the boat is reportedly in custody and speaking with investigators.

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Mr Ysea said when he arrived at the scene near the Cabrillo National Monument there was a "large debris field" of broken wood and other items in the choppy waters.

"In that area of Point Loma it's very rocky". The boat quickly broke apart as the waves smashed it into the rocky shore. A group of people can be seen trying to get to safety.

Romero said there were life preservers on board, but it was unclear whether any passengers were wearing them.

The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department said on its incident page it responded "along with Federal Fire, US Coast Guard and other local agencies".

He believes the boat was attempting to blend in with commercial vessels. Agents determined all were Mexican citizens with no legal status to enter the US, according to a statement released by Customs and Border Protection. All 21 people - two of whom were suspected of smuggling - were detained.

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Chief Patrol Agent Aaron M. Heitke referred to Sunday's incident as a "suspected maritime smuggling event".

Almost 100 first responders came to the scene, with eight fire engines, 10 medics, and various other officials.

City Councilmember Jen Campbell, who represents the district, said her office was monitoring the incident and that her "thoughts are with those impacted".

The ages and nationalities of those aboard the boat are now unknown, authorities said.

Border Patrol on Friday said law enforcement officials would be ramping up operations to disrupt maritime smuggling off the coast of San Diego this weekend. Deaths are unusual but not unprecedented.

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"Every indication from our perspective is that this was a smuggling vessel used to smuggle migrants into the United States illegally", Supervisory Border Patrol Agent Jeffery Stephenson said. "All they care about is lining their own pocket for profit". "They're looking for any method they can to move what they view as a commodity".

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