Autopsies ordered on bodies found on vessel

Small Caribbean boats

SCARBOROUGH, Tobago  — A postmortem will be conducted to determine how at least 15 people, whose bodies were found in a vessel off the coast of Pembroke last weekend, died.

Deputy Police Commissioner, McDonald Jacob, speaking on the state-owned Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), on Tuesday said that the vessel may have originated from Africa.

He said the police had been advised not to touch the bodies and as a result were unable to verify whether any identification was available. But he confirmed that a cell phone had been retrieved from the vessel.

He said the through information obtained from the phone “and other intelligence information coming through INTERPOL (International police) we were able to identify that the boat came in fact from north west Africa, from Mauritania”.

Mauritania lies in the western region of the continent of Africa and the senior police officer said that “in fact we have information” that the vessel was stolen from Mauritania “and the question is whether or not these persons on the boat are in fact from Mauritania”.

The senior police officer dismissed earlier media reports that the people on board were from Venezuela, saying “when you check where the boat was from it is inconsistent with the flow of Venezuelans (coming) to Trinidad and Tobago”.

“It is not necessarily that route that they normally take,” he said, adding that the bodies would also be swabbed for the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Last Friday, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) all the bodies on the vessel were “ “in an advanced state of decomposition. They appeared to be male, African descent and wearing track suits and green rain jackets”.