Four people have been confirmed dead and another 28 missing after a boat filled with people leaving the troubled South American nation sank in Caribbean waters, Venezuelan authorities said Thursday.
The boat carrying 34 people departed Tuesday for the Dutch island of Curacao near Venezuela’s coast, Venezuela’s Regional Civil Protection director Jose Montano said.
He said two people managed to swim safely to shore in Curacao. Authorities continued to search for those still missing.
The incident comes amid heightened tensions after President Nicolas Maduro ordered a trade blockade with Curacao, Aruba and Bonaire on Friday.
Venezuelan authorities allege the smuggling of products out of Venezuela to neighboring countries is one of the causes of the severe shortage of food and other basic products that the South American country has been facing for several years.