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Trailer of unidentified bodies remains on Abaco

Three months after Hurricane Dorian hit, only four victims on Abaco have been identified, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday.

“In Abaco, there have been four persons identified and released to family members,” he said outside Cabinet.

“In Grand Bahama, all of the victims have been identified and their remains released.

“So, in Abaco, there remains in the trailer in Abaco a significant number of bodies, I believe probably about 50, but I would have to be looking at my notes to get it exactly right.

“DNA samples have been taken and the expected time from DNA sampling until comparison and conclusion could be as long as six to nine months. That is the international standard or timeline unless you use rapid DNA techniques.

“So, yes. There are still a number of remains in Abaco. Four persons have been released to their families. All of the others remain yet to be identified, yet to be released.”

Sands said some people without legal immigration status may be afraid to come forward to identify loved ones. He said the government may use a third party to act as an intermediary in those cases so that bodies can be more quickly identified.

“We’d like to be very aggressive in making it safe and easy for individuals to self identify,” he said.

“Bear in mind that there is a challenge that some people may be afraid to come forward if their immigration status is not ideal. This problem is not unique to The Bahamas. And so, to have an independent third party perhaps act as an intermediary so that the process of identification can take place may be an option that we consider.”

Dorian leveled parts of Abaco and Grand Bahama in early September, leaving thousands displaced and 70 confirmed dead.

Of the victims, 60 were found on Abaco, and 10 on Grand Bahama, authorities said.

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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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