Govt closer to burying dead on Abaco

Pathologists completed autopsies on all bodies stored in a refrigerated trailer near the clinic in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, and received specimens for DNA testing, according to Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands yesterday.

Fifty-one storm victims are being kept in a refrigerated trailer, the Ministry of Health said. The victims died during the passage of Hurricane Dorian last September.

“That opens the door now for concluding this chapter [and] getting them buried,” Sands said.

“So, hopefully that will be accomplished soon. When is soon? As soon as we identify a site and ensure that we’ll do everything that we need to do from the point of view of the coroner, the attorney general’s office and so on and so forth.

“The plan is to get the remains buried in short order.”

Last October, Sands said the government intends to provide a special burial site for the unidentified bodies.

The ministry indicated in a report last month that the government has allocated $275,000 for the site.

Sands added that the completion of these autopsies and retrieval of DNA specimens simultaneously opens the door for more family members to come forward and identify their loved ones regardless of how reluctant they may be.

“We have to make sure that we give people an opportunity in a non-threatening way to come forward,” he said.

“I think that is humane.

“We’re not setting any precedence. It’s done all around the world. The International Red Cross does it in many countries. There’s no reason why they can’t do it here.”

He also said that the International Red Cross has been invited to help health officials ensure this process runs smoothly.

The Category 5 storm impacted nearly 30,000 people and killed at least 70, most of them being on Abaco.

In the immediate aftermath, Sands said the number of people who died during Dorian is expected to be “staggering”.

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