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Saturday, 27 November, 1999, 06:15 GMT
Cubans survive shipwreck ordeal
Fishermen Sam Ciancio, left, and Donato Dalrumple Fishermen Sam Ciancio, left, and Donato Dalrumple found the dehydrated boy

A five-year-old Cuban boy and two adults who floated to Florida on inner tubes after their boat sank on Tuesday have been found alive.

US Coast Guard personnel have recovered the bodies of at least seven fellow passengers - including the boy's mother - who drowned.

A search is continuing for another three who are missing.

The boy, Elian Gonzalez, was picked up on Thursday by fishermen two miles off the Fort Lauderdale coast

Elian Gonzalez, surrounded by relatives Elian Gonzalez leaving hospital
He was treated in hospital for dehydration and minor cuts, but later released. Relatives will now look after him.

"God wanted him here for freedom," cousin Marilysis Gonzalez said. "And he's here, and he will get it."

Arianne Horta, 22, and Nivaldo Fernandez-Ferra, 33, are still receiving treatment in hospital after being washed up on Key Biscayne, south of Miami.

Bodies found

They told officials that the group had left Cuba early on Sunday, and that the boat had gone down on Tuesday.

US Border Patrol Deputy Chief Mike Sheehy said all three survivors would be allowed to stay in the United States.

Police continue their search The authorities are scouring the area
"We believe that an individual in the United States took a boat to Cuba to pick them up. We believe that individual is one of the deceased," he added.

A Coast Guard official said six bodies had been recovered from the waves in the Fort Pierce-St Lucie area by Friday evening.

A seventh body was found in the water on Thursday, near where Elian was rescued off Fort Lauderdale.

The adult survivors had indicated there were 14 people on board the boat, but they later told the authorities there had been only 13.

The search for the missing three would continue into Saturday, the official said.

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See also:
21 Sep 99 |  Americas
Life for Cuba 'people smuggler'
30 Jun 99 |  Americas
Six Cubans to stay in US
21 Nov 98 |  Americas
US breaks smuggling ring

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