Venezuelan immigrants found dead after boat sinks in Caribbean

Venezuelan immigrants found dead after boat sinks in Caribbean

Four Venezuelans attempting to reach the Dutch Antilles island of Curacao despite a travel ban by Caracas, died when their boat broke apart, authorities and family members of the passengers said on Wednesday.

An opposition lawmaker in Venezuela's Falcon state, Luis Stefanelli, says about 30 people were on the boat and that they were all younger than 35.

Police told Curacao News website they had recovered the bodies of two women and two men, and were searching "to see if there are more".

Local authorities said three of the four who died were deported from CuraƧao past year because they were staying illegally on the island.

"If you don't know it well, it's a very hard area to navigate", he said.

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Curacao's coastguard have reported a growing number of vessels making the unsafe journey from Venezuela which is mired in a severe economic crisis.

Regional Civil Protection director Jose Montano said Friday that 10 passengers are still missing following the wreck on the Dutch island of Curacao.

Two men who were believed to have been on the boat managed to swim to shore and were arrested. "We also found a lot of wood that's from a boat", he said, adding that debris included gas cans and personal belongings. He said they were in police custody.

The incident happened amid tensions between Venezuela and the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire, after President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of air and sea traffic to the islands because of alleged smuggling.

His government contends that smuggling of products out of Venezuela to neighboring countries and islands is one of the causes of the severe shortage of food and other basic products plaguing the South American nation.

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