No DNA match yet for bodies on Abaco

Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that no one who has come forward in search of missing loved ones on Abaco have had a DNA match for any of the 50 or so remains that sit inside a refrigerated unit on that island.

The search for missing relatives has relatively faded from the headlines since Hurricane Dorian decimated Abaco and Grand Bahama last September.

The storm left nearly 30,000 people homeless and at least 70 people dead.

In the immediate aftermath, officials from local non-profits and law enforcement began collecting bodies on Abaco and Grand Bahama.

On Abaco, the bodies were put into a refrigerated trailer stored on the same property as the Marsh Harbour Clinic.

According to Sands, there are 51 bodies inside the container.

“As of today, I’m advised that there has been no match of DNA with any of the remains to any individual who has come forward,” he said outside Cabinet.

Sands said he does not know the number of people who have come in to provide DNA samples for identification purposes.

The Nassau Guardian understands that the government experienced challenges identifying victims of Dorian on the island.

The Guardian was told that DNA samples were sent to the FBI about four times following a failure to properly identify the race, age or sex of the victims.

Sands said the government has only sought to do what is right.

“As a Cabinet minister, I represent the government of The Bahamas,” he said.

“At no time did the decisions made for the management of these remains lie solely with me or my ministry.

“That said, having chosen to be an elected member of Parliament and having agreed to be a Cabinet minister, you take the criticism whether it is appropriate or not.

“I can assure you that at every single step of the way, we have sought to do what we believe is right, what is just, what is fair and what is humane.”

Last month, Sands told the Tribune that at some point “the government of The Bahamas will have to declare that over 200 people have died in Hurricane Dorian”.

But shortly after, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis shot down Sands’ comments.

“I go by the facts,” Minnis said.

“The facts are that there are 70 deaths. That’s the facts. I don’t care what is said. That’s the facts.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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