(CMC) – Health Minister Dr Duane Sands says that weeks after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, there are bodies that remain unclaimed in a refrigerated trailer on the island of Abaco.
“In the trailer in Abaco, a significant number of bodies I believe probably about 50 (have not been claimed). DNA samples have been taken and the expected time from DNA sampling until comparison and conclusion can be as long as six to nine months,” he said.
According to Sands, while the remains of a few storm victims have been to their families, the government might use an independent third party to act as an intermediary to enable undocumented migrants – who may be fearful – to identify the remains.
“Bear in mind that some people may be afraid to come forward if their immigration status is not ideal. This problem is not unique to The Bahamas and so (a consideration is) to have an independent third party perhaps act as an intermediary so that the process of identification can take place,” said Sands, who was speaking outside Cabinet on Tuesday.
He added that health officials would like to curtail the length of time the bodies are kept in the Abaco trailer.
“In Abaco…we’d like to limit the length of time. We have remains in New Providence that would have been here in refrigerated trailers for years. There is no absolute limit as to how long you can keep refrigerated remains. In this instance however at that facility to have a trailer sitting there for an indefinite time is not ideal and so what we would like to be able to do is to be very aggressive in terms of making it safe and easy for individuals to identify.”
Concerning a burial site for the remains for the unidentified remains of those killed by the hurricane, he said that not much progress has been made for the burial site.
The Health Minister also released more information on the deceased victims which stated that as of December 1 – 55 bodies/remains were recovered in Abaco while 47 bodies/remains had been examined.
There were 51 total remains in the trailer as of December 1, inclusive of an arm and a head, and eight bodies had not yet been examined.
According to a release, six deaths in New Providence “related to Hurricane Dorian remain unchanged.”
The official death toll from Dorian is 70, however officials have said the number could be greater.