Situation ‘dire’ as Coast Guard seeks 38 missing off Florida

The United States has launched a criminal investigation into whether a smuggling ring is behind a boat that capsized off Florida with 40 migrants onboard.

The Coast Guard said Wednesday that one survivor and one body have been found and it is searching for the other 38 migrants. The solitary survivor was found clinging to the overturned hull about 45 miles off the Florida coast.

Crews on at least four ships and five aircraft already scanned a vast area about the size of New Jersey.

The boat capsized Saturday, shortly after it left the Bahamas, but was not found until Tuesday. The Coast Guard said no one wore life jackets as the the boat capsized in severe weather.

Officials have not said what country the migrants are believed from, but the Bahamas is often a stopping off point for people fleeing Cuba or Haiti.

U.S. Homeland Security Investigations said it suspects that a smuggling ring was behind the voyage.