Sands: Autopsies and Identification still ongoing

Sands: Autopsies and Identification still ongoing

Remains of Dorian victims turned over to relatives

THE government is considering appeals for the expedition of death certificates for Hurricane Dorian victims, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands.

Sands said any changes would have to follow widespread consultation. This comes as authorities raised the number of confirmed deaths to 54 on Tuesday.

Sands fielded questions from the press outside Cabinet, and urged the public to be patient over the pace of autopsies and identification.

According to police, 45 bodies have been recovered from Abaco, and 9 from Grand Bahama.

“We intend to give a more comprehensive breakdown of the number of persons who have had their autopsies completed, to say how many of them have been identified,” Sands said. “For instance, I believe there are two persons in Grand Bahama who have not been identified and who remain unidentified.

“All the others (in Grand Bahama) have been identified. Once identified and their autopsies and death certificates completed, their remains are turned over and have been turned over to their families.

“In Abaco the number is less than that but I don’t have the exact number,” he continued. “What we would like to do is, using sanitized information obviously, to protect the identities of those persons and the families, to give the public an understanding of that total number, how many have been identified, how many are left to be identified.”

Hurricane Dorian battered Grand Bahama and Abaco for three days, leaving thousands of people displaced and hundreds still unaccounted for.

Sands was asked whether the government will be increasing the death count, given that many Bahamians have are still unaccounted for three weeks later.

However, the health minister said the matter is out of his jurisdiction.

“Bear in mind that the determination of death has significant implications in terms of property [and] ownership of goods,” Sands said.

“While we understand the tremendous need for closure, this is something that cannot be done on fiat.

“It has to be a a carefully considered process. It is obviously a very topical matter right now and I think that that consultative process needs to take place.

He added: “How long, should it be seven years, should it be five years, should it be three years, I don’t know the answer to that and I think that we will need to have that discussion and I certainly will not preempt the outcome of that discussion.”