NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Nearly nine months following Hurricane Dorian, Assistant Commissioner of Police Solomon Cash yesterday confirmed that missing persons reports were filed for 33 people.
Cash acknowledged the number of reported people missing to the police force does not match the number of victims recovered following Dorian.
“We recognize that, but what we are saying to members of the public with loved ones; no matter what your status is in The Bahamas, come forward with the information so we can document it properly and then we will await, depending DNA results, once we can get that control sample from these family members,” he said.
“So again, we want to appeal to members of the public form the Abaco communities or if you live in any other islands of The Bahamas and had a loved one that lived in Abaco who you have not seen since the hurricane, to come forward and let us know because again, we recognize that the number of reported missing persons does not add up to the amount of bodies recovered from Abaco.”
The unidentified remains of 55 victims were buried on Friday.
In January, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson told reporters that 54 people had been reported missing — 32 on Abaco and 22 on Grand Bahama.
“The police, we rely on reports and what’s factual,” Cash said during a virtual press conference staged by the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (DRA).
“People who come into our facilities and report incidents to us, we document those facts and we would report basically on the numbers that is given to us. I can say to this date that from a police perspective, there were only 33 reports of missing persons at the Central Detective Unit.
“I can also say to this date that on the ground in Abaco, we recovered 63 bodies. In Grand Bahama, we recovered 13 bodies to this date.””
Cash said: “We have no other reports to the police as to any other recoveries or any other reports that were made to our department.”
Superintendent Rochelle Deleveaux said of the 33 people reported missing, authorities received 21 DNA samples from relatives
“These are the reported missing persons from Abaco, so we only can collect samples from those individuals, loved ones that were reported missing,” she said.
Inspector Altida Bowles, responsible for missing people, said if someone has a missing relative from the storm, a report should be made to police who can assist in facilitating the collection of DNA samples at Princess Margaret Hospital.
She said through collaborative efforts, numerous public services announcements were made over the last nice months for the public to come forward, adding that authorities also made inquiries at all shelters.
As it relates to the identification process, Deleveaux said DNA samples were obtained from victims and sent to an international laboratory; however, no results were obtained, prompting local authorities to explore alternative options.
“We had to find a facility that was able to analyze these different samples that would be able to optimize them, so we can get full profiles for identification,” she said.
“We did that. We identified a lab and the samples from the remains in Abaco as well as blood samples and other samples from family members who reported their relatives missing in Abaco were submitted.
“The process has been I guess slowed to a certain extent, because of what is going on worldwide, so the result are pending.
“We are hopeful that in short order we will be getting some results as it relates to the positive identification of remains.”
Dorian decimated portions of Abaco and Grand Bahama.
It killed 63 people in Abaco and 13 people in Grand Bahama.
Fifty-five unidentified Dorian victims were buried in Abaco last Friday.