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The Nation

Some Haitian refugees aboard a sailboat threatened to throw babies overboard during a 30-hour standoff on the high seas with a U.S. Coast Guard vessel transporting 99 Haitians back to their homeland, officials said. A rope was used to immobilize the rudder of the 50-foot refugee vessel and four other Coast Guard cutters were sent to the scene before the Haitians agreed to leave the sailboat Sunday afternoon about 120 miles southeast of Miami, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Gary Starks. The Coast Guard cutter Escape encountered the refugee boat Saturday morning while en route to Haiti with refugees intercepted Friday off Ft. Lauderdale. During the confrontation, one refugee woman was rescued after leaping into the sea and others vowed to throw infants overboard unless they were allowed to continue to the United States, Starks said. The Escape took the 99 original refugees back to Haiti on Sunday, while the cutter Steadfast took the other 250 refugees back to their homeland.


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