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Four suspected migrants killed as boat capsizes off Miami

MIAMI (Reuters) - A small boat carrying 15 suspected migrants from Haiti and Jamaica capsized off the coast of Miami, killing four of the six women aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

Coast Guard crew members found the survivors clinging to the hull of the 15 to 20 foot (4.5-6 meter) power boat after getting a call at about 1 a.m. EDT (0500 GMT) from a 911 dispatch center in Miami, said Petty Officer Sabrina Laberdesque.

One of the 11 survivors was taken to a hospital for medical attention but was later released into the custody of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities said.

Commander Darren Caprara, chief response officer for the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Miami, told reporters it was difficult to ascertain the exact number of people aboard the "overloaded vessel" when it capsized about seven miles off Miami. But he said a search operation had been called off by Wednesday afternoon.

"We have every reason to believe that we have found all the people at sea. The final number was 15. It turned out to be nine males and six females," he said.

He said the bodies of the four women killed were discovered when the Coast Guard righted the vessel. A male survivor who clung to life in an air pocket under the vessel was found at the same time, Caprara said.

Laberdesque did not have information about the origin of the capsized vessel but said its occupants were all believed to be either Haitian or Jamaican nationals.

(Reporting by Tom Brown, additional reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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