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Search for missing Cuban rafter in the Bahamas continues

The 36-year old was last seen near Anguilla Cay, part of a string of uninhabited islands between Cuba and the Bahamas

Buscan a balsero perdido en una isla de Bahamas
Buscan a balsero perdido en una isla de Bahamas | Shutterstock

January 9, 2022 7:18pm

Updated: January 9, 2022 8:08pm

A Cuban rafter was reported missing after it was learned that he suffered a panic attack on December 31 in Anguilla Cay and did not want to return to the boat where he was traveling with 15 other people.

Magdiel Portal Lumpuy, a 36-year-old native of Placetas in Villa Clara, left Cuba on Dec. 30 in order to reach the United States by sea, a migration decision that many Cubans fleeing the economic, political and social crisis in the island are making.

On Dec. 31st the man’s mother, Ana Lidia Lumpuy, received a call from one of the rafters after they reached U.S. shores, who told her that her son had a panic attack and refused to return to the raft as they were leaving. He is believed to still be on or near the island of Anguilla Cay, one of the islands in the Cay Sal Bank, a string of 96 uninhabited tiny islands close to Cay Sal Island that is not far from Cuba, but part of the Bahamas.

Everyone in the family "is very worried because he is alone there, without water, without food and it has already been many days," Anais Portal Lumpuy told ADN Cuba and added that so far the Bahamian authorities have not responded to the family's informational claims.

Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar has been aware of Portal Lumpuy's situation and is trying to coordinate efforts with the U.S. Coast Guard and Bahamian Embassy to find him, according to her office.

"My office has been in close contact with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding the search efforts for Magdiel Portal Lumpuy," Rep. Salazar said. "Since Thursday, they have been conducting daily searches for Lumpuy in the Cayo de Anguilla. They have informed us that their aircrew will continue their search tomorrow," she wrote on Facebook and other social networks. 

Rep. Salazar reported that her Congressional team has contacted the Embassy of the Bahamas, whose staff works “to connect their law enforcement with our Coast Guard,” and that [they] “have also been in close contact with the Lumpuy family."

"I pray that Lumpuy is found safe," Salazar wrote and added that her office supports the search efforts of the Coast Guard and that they are “working around the clock” to rescue Portal Lumpuy. 

Cubans stranded in Cayo Anguilla, history repeats itself

In Feb. 2021 two men and a woman from Cuba were rescued from Anguilla Cay after surviving 33 days by consuming coconuts and coconut water.

They were found by an aircrew on routine patrol and spotted a rustic flag being flown by the islanders. 

A report from BBC said the crew was not initially prepared for a rescue of this magnitude but was able to drop food, water, and a radio to the rafters before they started their recovery procedure to get the rafters off the island.

The three castaways said they swam to the uninhabited island because the ship they were traveling on sank. 

After the rescue, they were taken to the Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West to receive medical attention, as their conditions were not favorable.

Coast Guard Officer Brando Murray said after the rescue that he did not recall any previous rescue where people had survived for a month in such conditions.

Since Oct. 1, 2021, the beginning of the current fiscal year in the U.S., the Coast Guard has intercepted 938 Cubans at sea, a figure higher than the 838 in the previous fiscal year and the 49 in fiscal year 2020.