The incident comes amid the biggest migratory flight from the Caribbean island in four decades, spurred by a deepening economic, political and energy crisis.
Cuba’s Interior Ministry threw blame on the U.S., saying the deaths were a “another consequence” of American policy toward Cuba, including the 60-year embargo.
Meanwhile, the U.S. sent condolences to the families of those deceased.
“As we expand safe and legal pathways for migration, we warn against attempting dangerous and sometimes fatal irregular migration,” said a tweet from the U.S. Embassy in Havana, which has yet to resume full operations on the island.
The vast majority of Cubans who are leaving go by plane to Nicaragua, then travel overland to the U.S. border, often in Texas and Arizona.
But a growing number have fled by boat on the dangerous 90-mile journey to the southern coast of the United States. Between October 2021 and August 2022, the U.S. Coast Guard intercepted more than 4,600 Cubans traveling by boat, almost six times more than in all of 2020.
It is the largest exodus since 1980, when around 125,000 Cubans traveled by sea to the U.S. over six months, known as the Mariel crisis.