Local February 6, 2012 | 10:46 am

Navy confirms deaths of 18 boatpeople, resumes search

Santo Domingo.- Dominican Republic’s Navy has confirmed that the number of deaths in the sinking of a makeshift (yola) boat in Samana Bay has now reached 18, with 13 undocumented travelers rescued alive, some of which were taken to the hospital at Sabana de la Mar for medical attention.

Navy PR director Jose David Porcino made the announcement in a press conference Monday morning, and revealed that Navy Chief of Staff, admiral Nicolas Cabrera ordered an intense search, which include the US Coastguard cuter Capella and patrol boat Regulus.

“We also have five private boats in the search with people who know the area of the disaster well, also Air Force units and special support from the Naval Auxiliaries, with planes and boats,” the official said.

When asked about the arrests in the tragedy, Porcino said Naval Intelligence is handling the case, adding that Cabrera also disposed of assistance for the first responders. “The Navy is immediately deploying medics to help Public Health personnel given the high number of victims. Cabrera also ordered a wider effort to rescue any remaining survivors.”

“We’ve yet to determine the exact number of people on the boat, since the survivors provide contractive figures. We expect more survivors since the Barracote and Yuna rivers have thick vegetation at their mouths.”

He said one of the fatal victims was pregnant and that at least 16 of the travelers are from San Francisco de Macoris, where according to CDN TV, many of the relatives blame the Navy for “negligence” in the tragedy.

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