Two dozen Cuban migrants land in Key West: Police

AFP| Last Updated: Aug 03, 2015, 20:55 PM IST

A group of 24 Cuban migrants landed early Monday on a beach in Key West on the southern tip of Florida after crossing from Cuba in a makeshift boat, local authorities said.

Some were treated for exposure to diesel fuel fumes, but the migrants -- 23 men and a woman -- were smiling in photographs posted by the Key West police after their arrival at about 4:00 am.

"They said that they all came in the tiny makeshift boat named Mariana, which was just off the sea wall," police said on the department`s Facebook page.

Key West, the last in a string of islands extending from the Florida mainland, is the closest US point to Cuba, about 150 kilometers (90 miles) away.

Cuban migrants, unlike those from any other nation, are allowed to stay in the United States if they succeed in reaching land, but are repatriated if picked up at sea.

The US Coast Guard has reported a surge in attempted crossings as US-Cuban relations have improved, raising questions about how long Washington will continue to grant special treatment to Cuban migrants.

Since October, approximately 3,000 Cubans have attempted the dangerous crossing by sea, according to the Coast Guard.