Survivors who spent 23 days adrift in the Caribbean in an attempt to get to the US from Cuba have finally made it to America and have shared details of their hellish ordeal. "I'm happy I made it, alive, but it was something no one should have to go through," 32-year-old butcher Alain Izquierdo tells Reuters. After their boat's engine failed, they spent weeks without food and water, Izquierdo says. Desperate passengers drank urine and seawater, and a few even used syringes to draw and drink their own blood. "That was a mistake, the ones who drank their blood became faint. Gradually they lost their minds and faded away," he says.
Another survivor says that the group tried to flag down passing ships from their homemade boat but were ignored. Before they were rescued off the coast of Mexico, 11 of the 32 passengers died of dehydration. Another six tried to swim back to Cuba but apparently didn't make it. The group was trying to get to Honduras, which gives Cubans temporary visas to allow them to travel north overland to the US. The route across the Florida Straits to the US is much shorter, but under the US "wet foot, dry foot" policy, Cubans who make it to American soil are allowed to remain, while those intercepted at sea are sent back, NBC reports. The Coast Guard says there has been a significant rise in Cuban attempts to get to the US this year: Some 3,665 migrants have been stopped at sea or made it to shore, while 22,755 have arrived at the US-Mexico border. It's not known how many have been lost at sea.