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Cuban Migrant Boat Crashes

July 10, 1999

MIAMI (AP) _ U.S. Coast Guard crews searched the waters off Florida today for a migrant Cuban woman missing after a boat collided with a Coast Guard cutter and sank.

A motorized 25-foot wooden boat carrying 12 Cubans toward Florida’s shores collided with the cutter at about 11 p.m. Friday while attempting to evade the Coast Guard, said Jeff Murphy, a Coast Guard spokesman.

Eleven people were rescued and awaited Border Patrol officials aboard a cutter today.

Meanwhile, four helicopters, four cutters and a few small boats were helping look for the woman.

``We’re searching along the shoreline and expanding outward ... I think so far they’ve covered 200 miles,″ Murphy said.

The Cubans’ boat was attempting to cut across the bow of the cutter 10 miles east of Hillsborough Inlet, which is about 36 miles north of Miami. The collision sank the boat in six minutes, Murphy said.

The crash comes amid tension between Cuban exiles in Miami and the Coast Guard in the wake of an incident June 29, when eight Coast Guardsmen used pepper spray and fire hoses on six Cubans trying to make it to shore.

Live television broadcasts of the incident enraged many of Miami’s Cuban community, who protested by blocking traffic on two major roadways.

Eight Coast Guardsmen were removed this week from law enforcement duty pending an internal investigation.

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