7 rafters at sea rescued by Oasis of the Seas cruise ship



Posted on Saturday, 07.02.11
Immigrants

7 rafters at sea rescued by Oasis of the Seas cruise ship
By Amrita Jayakumar
ajayakumar@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Cruise ships now have another attraction to offer tourists: dramatic rescues at sea.

Seven rafters were rescued by the cruise ship Oasis of the Seas Friday afternoon, as it made its way back to Port Everglades.

This is the second cruise ship to conduct a rescue in the last two months. Another Royal Caribbean ship Allure of the Seas rescued nine Cuban rafters in May.

The group rescued Friday consisted of six men and one woman, said Royal Caribbean International in a statement.

Passengers spotted a tiny blue raft in the ocean around 3 p.m. Friday and the captain turned around the 220,000-ton ship to rescue the rafters, who were taken aboard and given food, water and medical treatment, according to the statement from Cynthia Martinez, cruise line spokesperson.

The ship notified the U.S. Coast Guard and the seven rafters were later transferred to their custody.

Royal Caribbean described the rafters as Cubans, but the Coast Guard said the nationality of the group could not be confirmed because of an ongoing government investigation, according to Petty Officer Sabrina Elgammal.

The rafters appeared to be bailing out water and praying, said Christi Nasser, a passenger from Tennessee who spotted them and snapped pictures. Her photos showed the rafters looking healthy and well dressed, which may indicate that they could have been dropped off by another vessel.

It is unclear where the rafters are now.

If they were Cubans, their fate would be determined by the U.S.-Cuba Immigration Accord, more commonly known as the "wet-foot, dry-foot" policy, which says Cubans who reach American shores are allowed to stay here while those found at sea are sent back to Cuba or a third country.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/07/01/2296039/7-rafters-at-sea-rescued-by-oasis.html


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