Govt eyeing special burial site for unidentified storm victims

Six weeks after the passage of Hurricane Dorian, Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday the government intends to provide a special burial site for unidentified bodies.

“Based on international best standards, the plan would be to place, in a respectful way, the remains in a burial site where they can be retrieved if the identification process takes place subsequent to burial,” Sands said.

The minister added that the bodies would be individually buried and marked by a letter and a number.

He said the location of the burial site has not been decided as yet, as this idea is still unfolding.

“Obviously, we have to make sure that people have had an opportunity to find their loved ones because there are still a lot of people who have not yet been found,” he said.

“So, we don’t want to be premature, but at the same time we can’t wait forever.”

Sands added that autopsies have been performed on all of the bodies retrieved thus far.

“…Given the fact that there have been no significant retrievals, the forensics team has caught up,” he said.

“They have captured DNA samples, soft tissue and bone. The challenge remains [on] Abaco where the majority of the remains have not yet been identified. I think what we now have to do is to make a public announcement to try and get family members to come forward in order to identify the victims.”

All but one of the nine victims from Grand Bahama have been identified and released to their families, according to the minister.

At last report, six deceased storm victims from Abaco have been identified.

Asked how many of the bodies from that island have been released to their families, the minister indicated that “some” families have received their loved ones.

On Tuesday, he noted that identifying bodies of hurricane victims on Abaco has been a challenge due to a lack of comparative information.

So far, 52 bodies have been recovered on the island in the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which left Marsh Harbour and some of the surrounding cays in ruin.

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