Miami, Sep 29 (IANS): The US Coast Guard is searching for the 23 migrants whose vessel sank off the coast of Florida amid hurricane Ian which made landfall in the state as a Category 4 hurricane, an official said.
Walter Slosar, chief patrol agent for the Border Patrol's Miami sector, tweeted on Wednesday that agents had responded to a migrant landing in Stock Island, Monroe County, reports Xinhua news agency.
Slosar said that four "Cuban migrants swam to shore after their vessel sank due to inclement weather" and that a search and rescue operation is underway for 23 individuals believed to have been on the same boat.
Ian, a Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 250 km per hour, made landfall on the west coast of Florida on Wednesday afternoon.
It is causing catastrophic storm surges, winds, and flooding in the Florida Peninsula, according to the National Hurricane Centre (NHC).
Ian could be near hurricane strength when it moves over Florida's east coast on Thursday, and when it approaches the northeastern Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina coasts late Friday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, more than 2 million customers are without power in Florida due to the storm, according to PowerOutage.us.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday morning that Ian was expected to be a "historic" storm with "a profound impact" on the state.
Fleets of highwater vehicles, 42,000 linemen, 7,000 members of the National Guards, and 179 aircraft had been mobilized in response to the hurricane's impact, he tweeted.
US President Joe Biden said from the White Housethat the federal government was "on alert and in action", adding: "This storm is incredibly dangerous, to state the obvious. It's life-threatening."
"You should obey all warnings and directions from emergency officials. Don't take anything for granted. Use their judgment, not yours. Evacuate when ordered. Be prepared," he said.
Before making landfall in Florida, the hurricane barrelled through Cuba on Tuesday, killing two people and shattering the country's electrical grid.