NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 6, CMC – Foreign Affairs Minister Darren Henfield says the Haitian Embassy here has requested the bodies of the nationals from the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country who died after their vessel ran aground off Abaco, over the last weekend.
Initial reports had indicated that 28 people had drowned, but the Royal Bahamas Defence Force has now placed the death toll at 27. It said that 18 migrants were rescued following the boating accident on Saturday.
Henfield said the embassy here wanted to handle the burials.
The Department of Immigration in a statement said that Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez along with Karl Henri Chatelier, an embassy official, were in Abaco and that all official proceedings relating to the handling of the deceased would be conducted there.
Director of Immigration, Clarence Russell, said anyone found culpable as a result of this “grave tragedy” would be prosecuted.
Henfield said that the government has in the past warned of the dangers associated with the illegal migration by sea to the Bahamas.
“At one point we were looking at advertising locally. Haiti is a vast country, a vast domain to cover. I think some ads were being put out in Haiti to warn people about the dangers of the journey.
“I don’t know how far we got with that, but we’re hoping that that information can get out a bit more readily all across Haiti,” Henfield said, adding “we are going to continue to work with the Haitian government to do all that we can to mitigate Haitian migration to The Bahamas and to avoid these types of unfortunate instances in the future”.
The US Embassy in Haiti over the weekend also urged Haitians not to risk their lives by undertaking tho journey by sea.
“No journey is worth risking lives. Please urge families and communities, illegal migrant and smuggling operations are dangerous and frequently end in tragedy,” it said.