8 People, Including 2 Americans, Rescued After 4 Days at Sea

Jul 3, 2013 1:53pm

All eight people, including two Americans, who were aboard a boat missing at sea off the coast of Honduras for four days were rescued today, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

“It’s certainly great to see a happy ending and to see our partner agencies working together to have an outcome like this,” U.S. Coast Guard Spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gabe Somma said. “It’s certainly a great day to have everyone out safely.”

The group had been missing for four days after their boat departed Roatan, headed for Utila Island on Saturday and never reached the intended destination, according to Somma.

Of the eight people on the boat, there were two Americans, one Canadian and five from Honduras.

According to the ABC News affiliate in New Orleans, WGNO, one of the missing Americans was 16-year-old Amber Marie Burkelt from Bridge City, La. The family told WGNO that Burkelt traveled to Honduras in mid-June with her godfather and his family. Calls to Burkelt’s family were not immediately returned.

Somma said the trip was supposed to be only 18 miles in distance or about two hours. But the boat, designated a pleasure craft, was found 66 miles west of the destination. The Coast Guard took over the air search yesterday and did not yet have information if the group had supplies on the boat.

The group of eight were  hoisted by an Army helicopter to safety this afternoon after the missing boat was located by a Coast Guard aircraft at 10:30 a.m. Eastern. A Navy helicopter was also assisting in the rescue.

“By the time they found them, the search had already covered 4,502 square miles by air,” Somma said. “They will now be evaluated medically, and there’s no information on where they’ll be headed.”

Somma told ABC News that many missing boat situations can be rectified with the use of float plans and a $200 device called an EPRB-emergency position radio beacon.

“Missing people are usually long overdue by the time we are notified,” Somma said. “The EPRB provides an emergency signal so we can come and get you.”

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