Sixteen People Missing Off Florida Coast as Empty Boat Discovered

The wreckage of an empty boat has been discovered as the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) continues to search for 16 people missing off the Florida coast.

A group of six and a group of 10 went missing in two separate boats over the past week, the 7th District of the USCG South East, located in Miami, said in a series of media statements.

In an update shared on Twitter late Sunday, the USCG said it had found the boat that the group of 10 had been traveling in.

It comes after the USCG said they were searching for a "6-foot makeshift vessel" that went missing off the coast of Key West. The boat had departed from Havana in Cuba on Friday with 10 people on board, it added.

#UPDATE @USCG and a good Samaritan located the boat used by the 10 people that went missing outside of Key West. The vessel was located approximately 8 miles south of Long Key. The search continues.#D7 #USCG #SearchAndRescue

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 15, 2021

The USCG South Eat tweeted that a "good Samaritan" found the boat used by the 10 people. It said: "The vessel was located approximately 8 miles south of Long Key. The search continues."

The coast guard also shared photos of the empty raft, which appears to have been made from plasticine, wooden boards and a rusted metal rudder. In one shot, the structure is seen half-submerged in the ocean.

A spokesperson for USCG told CNN it's unclear why the vessel went missing.

The coast guard said earlier on Sunday that it was still looking for the group of 10, as well as a group of six people who went missing near the Fort Pierce area.

The search for the smaller group first began after a man was rescued on Friday.

He was spotted in the sea around 23 miles off the coast of Fort Pierce. The USCG responded and rushed him to a hospital.

The man, a Jamaican national, told the coast guard that he and six others had been traveling in a boat that had departed from Bimini in the Bahamas but had capsized on Wednesday.

The coast guard deployed search planes and multiple boats to search for survivors.

#UPDATE @USCG continues to search for 6 missing persons near the Fort Pierce area as well as 10 missing persons near the Key West area.#USCG #D7 #SearchAndRescue

— USCGSoutheast (@USCGSoutheast) February 13, 2021

Newsweek has contacted the USCG South East for comment and the 7th District asks anyone with information to contact the command center on 305-535-4300.

Last week the USCG recused three Cuban nationals from a small Bahamian island where they had been stranded for more than a month.

The USCG said they came to the assistance of two men and a woman who were spotted on the uninhabited island of Anguilla Cay on Tuesday.

The trio is said to have survived on the island for 33 days by eating rats and coconuts. The coast guard tweeted a video of an aircrew dropping off food, water and a radio to the three before embarking on a full rescue.

"USCG is assisting 3 people who have reportedly been stranded on Anguilla Cay, Bahamas, for 33 days," wrote USCG Southeast on Twitter.