Coast Guard: Number of Cubans caught at sea surges higher

MIAMI (AP) " The Coast Guard says the number of Cubans intercepted at sea while trying to reach U.S. shores has risen even higher amid Washington's increasing contact with Havana.

According to a Coast Guard statement , authorities encountered 7,358 Cubans risking sea crossings to U.S. soil in the fiscal year ending Friday. That's a 65 percent increase from 4,473 tallied in the previous year.

A surge of Cubans has been fleeing the island over the last two years. Migrants fear the end of a policy allowing Cubans reaching U.S. soil to stay. Those found at sea generally are returned to Cuba.

The Coast Guard says 232 Cubans have been repatriated since Sept. 22.

Authorities say Hurricane Matthew in the Caribbean has magnified the danger for migrants attempting the journey in makeshift vessels.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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