3 Cubans stranded on an island survived 33 days on coconuts and rats. They were rescued by the US Coast Guard, then handed over to ICE

US Coast Guard(L) A still from US Coast Guard video of supplies being dropped to the castaways. (R) Aerial shot of the three stranded Cubans.
  • Three Cubans were rescued from a deserted Bahamas island by US Coast Guard on Wednesday.
  • The group, whose boat had capsized, lived for 33 days mainly on rats and coconuts.
  • They were taken to a US hospital, then transferred to ICE custody.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A group of three Cubans, stranded for 33 days on a deserted island in the Bahamas, have been handed over to ICE after being picked up by the US Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officers spotted the group waving a makeshift flag on the island of Anguilla Cay, between Cuba and Key West, Florida, during a routine air patrol Monday, the agency said in a news release.

Aircraft Commander Mike Allert told news channel Local10: “We were alerted to them by the flags that they actually had in addition to a large cross that they put out there for themselves.”

Coast Guard aerial photos appear to show the group — two men and a woman — waving and sitting near a makeshift shelter.

Cuban rescue us coast guardUS Coast GuardAerial image of one of the stranded Cubans sitting near what appears to be a makeshift shelter.

Unable to mount an immediate rescue, the Coast Guard returned to the island with water, supplies and a radio to establish communications — where despite language difficulties the group told officers they had been stranded for nearly five weeks,the BBC reported.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard airlifted the castaways and took them to Lower Keys Medical Centre in Monroe County. They were found to have no injuries, the Coast Guard said in a tweet.

The group, who have not been named, told the crew that they had mainly survived by eating coconuts, rats, and conchs, and that their biggest problem was a lack of fresh drinking water, according to the BBC.

“I don’t know how they did it. I am amazed that they were in such good shape,” Dougherty told Local10.

Coast Guard Command Duty Officer Sean Connett described the rescue as “a very complex operation involving assets and crews from different units.”

Keith Smith, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security, told Insider they were treated for dehydration when they reached the Lower Keys Medical Centre in Islamorada, Florida.

The three were taken from hospital by Chief Patrol Agent Thomas G. Martin — Miami’s head of Border Patrol — and taken into custody, according to a Coast Guard tweet.

ICE spokesperson Nestor Yglesias told Insider that they will receive medical care and “will be afforded access to all legal processes available to them under the laws of the United States.”

They were then transferred to an ICE facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, for “removal proceedings,” said Smith.

The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further information.

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