HAVANA, May 25th (AP) More than 800 Haitians who apparently were trying to reach the United States landed instead in central Cuba, government news media said Wednesday, reporting that all had been packed onto a single vessel.
It appeared to be the largest group yet in a swelling exodus of people from crisis-stricken Haiti. The U.S. Coast Guard and other nations have reported intercepting boats carrying well over 100 Haitians in recent months.
The Communist Party newspaper Granma said Red Cross officials in the province of Villa Clara said the 842 Haitians had been given medical attention and were being housed at a tourist campground.
The new group that arrived Tuesday at Villa Blanca, about 300 kilometers (180 miles) east of Havana, included 70 children and 97 women, two of them pregnant, the Telecubanacan broadcaster reported on its Facebook.
While the numbers on a single ship seemed unprecedented, it is not unusual for currents and winds to carry Haitians to Cuba, which borders most of the sea path between Haiti and the U.S. Cuba returns most of the arriving migrants to Haiti.
The government reported a group of 292 Haitians had reached the province of Ciego de Avila in February.
Telecubanacan journalist Máximo Luz said “adverse navigation conditions” brought the Haitians to Cuba, where “they sought the help of border guard troops.”
The national news site Cubadebate showed images of a gray vessel packed with people, and of rescue workers carrying some of the Haitians for treatment.