Dry Tortugas National Park, a group of islands west of Florida, will remain closed until further notice due to the increasing number of boats arriving from Cuba, US authorities said on Monday.
The remote area, known for historic Fort Jefferson, is 110 kilometers west of Key West, Florida’s southernmost city, and just over 160 kilometers north of Havana, the Cuban capital.
The park “will be temporarily closed to the public while law enforcement and medical personnel assess, treat and coordinate transportation to Key West of approximately 300 migrants who have arrived at the park over the past two days,” the U.S. service said Sunday a press release.
“Like elsewhere in the Florida Keys, the park has recently seen an increase in the number of people arriving by boat from Cuba and landing on the islands of Dry Tortugas National Park,” he added.
Cuba, which is facing its worst economic crisis since the 1990s, saw a record number of its residents flee to the United States in 2022, although most of them entered the country overland via Mexico.
Still, thousands of migrants make the risky journey by boat to Florida, where many are intercepted by the US Coast Guard or detained by authorities as they disembark.
From early October to late December 2022, the US Coast Guard arrested more than 3,700 Cubans.
Scores of people died trying to cross the sea, including five in October when their boat collided with a vessel operated by Cuban border guards.
Dry Tortugas National Park said that when migrants arrive, “first responders will provide food, water and basic medical supplies until the Department of Homeland Security arrives and takes over operations. »
The press release states that the park will be closed for several days.