More bodies recovered from Haitian vessel

Death toll increases to 32

 

Two more bodies were found yesterday afternoon among the wreckage of a sunken vessel than ran aground and capsized last Friday, resulting in the deaths of at least 30 Haitian migrants, Eyewitness News Online understands.

The latest find pushes the death toll to 32.

Authorities pulled two bodies out of waters off Abaco on Tuesday.

According to authorities, while one body was intact, albeit badly decomposed, only the torso of the second body was found.

Eighteen Haitians — 17 men and one woman — were rescued following the incident.

National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Captain Stephen Russell told Eyewitness News Online yesterday that he requested Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel to continue the search for additional survivors and bodies given the varying reports of the number of people who travelled from Haiti.

“I’m asking that the crew members and their small boats do a closer search along the cays because bodies may drift with the tide — the tide goes in and out — and bodies may move back and forward and eventually they would rise to the top.

“We are asking his team to do some more in-depth search for us around the cays to see if there any survivors on any the cays or to see if there are any bodies along the coast or shores of any of the cays.”

According to Russell, varying reports on the number of passengers who made the perilous journey from Haiti is a pressing concern.

He said while survivors originally told authorities there were 45 people on board, the total count of those found alive and dead to date exceeds that number.

Other reports indicate there were between 83 and 90 people on board the 45-foot sloop.

“The team in Abaco started to focus on the number of 45

“Eventually, they found 30 bodies and recovered 18 survivors

“That puts us at 48, above the 45 mark.

“In the absence of a captain of a vessel or a mate coming forward to identify themselves, which would be extremely difficult, we are going to continue to have that challenge with [obtaining] an accurate number of persons that were on that vessel.”

He added, “Where are the others; have the all perished in waters off Abaco?”

“We saw where a body came to the surface yesterday and it was swollen because of the water that was in the body.

“God forbid that we [find] over the next few days or weeks… bodies popping up around the coast of Abaco. That’s a continued reminder of the tragedy.”

NEMA shipped several dozen bodies bags to Abaco yesterday morning to ensure if any additional bodies or human remains are located, they can be properly contained and sent to health officials.

The bodies of the victims were expected to be transported to New Providence yesterday.

He said based on protocols the Haitian Embassy in Nassau has assumed possession of the victims’ bodies.