3 Cubans stranded on an island survived 33 days on coconuts and rats. They were rescued by the US Coast Guard, then handed over to ICE

  • Three Cubans were rescued from a deserted Bahamas island by US Coast Guard on Wednesday.
  • The group, whose boat had capsized, lived for 33 days mainly on rats and coconuts.
  • They were taken to a US hospital, then transferred to ICE custody.
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A group of three Cubans, stranded for 33 days on a deserted island in the Bahamas, have been handed over to ICE after being picked up by the US Coast Guard.

Coast Guard officers spotted the group waving a makeshift flag on the island of Anguilla Cay, between Cuba and Key West, Florida, during a routine air patrol Monday, the agency said in a news release. 

Aircraft Commander Mike Allert told news channel Local10: “We were alerted to them by the flags that they actually had in addition to a large cross that they put out there for themselves.”

Coast Guard aerial photos appear to show the group — two men and a woman — waving and sitting near a makeshift shelter.

Unable to mount an immediate rescue, the Coast Guard returned to the island with water, supplies and a radio to establish communications — where despite language difficulties the group told officers they had been stranded for nearly five weeks, the BBC reported.

On Wednesday, the Coast Guard airlifted the castaways and took them to Lower Keys Medical Center in Monroe County. They were found to have no injuries, the Coast Guard said in a tweet. 

The group, who have not been named, told the crew that they had mainly survived by eating coconuts, rats, and conchs, and that their biggest problem was a lack of fresh drinking water, according to the BBC.

“I don’t know how they did it. I am amazed that they were in such good shape,” Dougherty told Local10. 

Coast Guard Command Duty Officer Sean Connett described the rescue as “a very complex operation involving assets and crews from different units.” The status of the group — who were not picked up on US soil — is now unclear.

The three were taken from hospital by Chief Patrol Agent Thomas G. Martin — Miami’s head of Border Patrol — and taken into custody, according to a Coast Guard tweet.

They were then transferred to an ICE facility in Pompano Beach, Florida, the tweet said. 

The DHS, ICE and the Coast Guard did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for further information.

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