At least 30 Venezuelan migrants missing after boat sinks

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At least 30 Venezuelan migrants are missing after the speedboat they were traveling in sank on its way to Curacao, an opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday.

The vessel left from a village in the northwest on Friday with 30 to 35 people on board, deputy Luis Stefanelli told AFP, quoting family members.

“No one has been in touch with their families, which makes us fear the worst,” said Stefanelli.

Authorities have not commented on the report.

The body of a man wearing a life jacket was found near Bullenbaai bay in Curacao, according to a coast guard statement published by media on the Caribbean island.

However, it was not clear if he had been aboard the speedboat that left clandestinely from the Venezuelan village of Aguide in Falcon state.

It's the third such boat carrying Venezuelan migrants to capsize in the last month, with a total of 80 people now missing.

The previous two boats were heading for Trinidad and Tobago.

Another opposition lawmaker, Robert Alcala said on May 19 that 29 people had gone missing when their boat sank in open water on its journey to Trinidad and Tobago from northwestern Venezuela.

It was Alcala as well who reported on April 25 that a boat carrying 33 migrants taking the same route disappeared, although nine people were rescued that time.

“These are desperate people who sell all their belongings and leave with nothing,” Stefanelli told AFP.

He said that according to the families, the migrants had paid $400 each for the crossing -- in a country where the minimum wage is now around $6.50 a month because of hyperinflation.

Venezuela is suffering from an economic crisis and has been in recession for five years, with its people suffering from shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicines.

The United Nations says a quarter of its 30 million population are in need of humanitarian aid.

Last week, the UN said more than 3.3 million people have fled the country in the last three and a half years.

Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, a close ally of President Nicolas Maduro, has accused the UN of “inflating figures.”

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