Ministry denies claims of decaying bodies

The Ministry of Health yesterday dismissed “pathetic falsifications” that scores of decaying bodies are being stored in a refrigerated trailer swarming with flies on Abaco.

In a video — that was widely circulated on social media — Cay Mills, an Abaco local government official, claimed the decaying bodies of Hurricane Dorian victims were being kept in a trailer that was not properly secured.

“You can see the flies,” Mills said in the video.

“I don’t know if you can see it on the video, but I don’t want to get too, too close because [there is the smell of death].”

The ministry described the claims as “baseless and inaccurate assertions”.

“The claim of a stench, fresh or old remnants of bodily fluids at or around the trailer and suggestion that there are unusually large populations of flies attracted to the trailer are pathetic falsifications refuted by direct inspection of our clinic administrator Kyron Darville and ACHS Charlene Bain on January 17, 2020,” it said in a statement.

“The locked cooler is currently at minus eight to minus 10 degrees. We have carefully selected and maintained the cooler temperature to avoid any further degradation of bodies that were all collected in a state of decomposition. The integrity of the remains has been verified by our pathology team as late as Friday, January 17, 2020.”

Nearly 30,000 people were impacted by Hurricane Dorian when it tore through Abaco and Grand Bahama last September.

At least 70 people were killed — most on Abaco, officials reported.

According to the ministry, only four of the bodies on Abaco have been identified. 

“Upon completion of all efforts to ensure identification, all the victims will be buried with dignity,” the ministry said.

“The people of Abaco have suffered tremendously. These insensitive and reckless false claims add to their pain and suffering. At least one of the persons should know better and seek confirmation before affirming misinformation.”

On Friday, Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin said she had been advised that “scores of bodies” were being kept in a container outside of the Marsh Harbour clinic. 

“I am advised that the bodies have been stored in this container for months and on occasion due to lack of timely refueling of the container’s refrigeration unit, the bodies de-ice before the refrigeration is restored leading to degeneration and stench,” she said in a statement.

However, the ministry “vigorously” denied Hanna-Martin’s claims.

“Among the allegations are statements that there are some 80 to 90 bodies which have been thawing due to inadequate cooling, resulting in a stench,” it said.

“It is further stated that this is a consequence of a lack of diesel to run the cooler, etc. These baseless allegations are untrue.”

The ministry said 51 bodies are being stored in the refrigerated trailer near the clinic in Marsh Harbour.

“The refrigerated cooler has been wired into the electrical breaker of the Marsh Harbour clinic for months,” it said.

“The clinic has been on the re-energized grid since November 2019. It has a functioning back-up generator which is serviced monthly.”

Yesterday, Hanna-Martin fired back at the ministry.

“The statement from the [Ministry] of Health is confirmation of my assertion that scores of dead bodies continue to be stored in a cooler outside of the Abaco hospital after all these months since the passage of Hurricane Dorian,” she said.

“Indeed his admission of 51 bodies surpasses the number even I believed to be in that cooler.”

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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