Categorized | National News

Seven Years to Declare Missing Dead

While 1,300 persons are missing following Hurricane Dorian, Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said it could take up to seven years for a missing person to be declared dead.

“Just because you are missing doesn’t mean that you are dead.  So if you were on Abaco, then your family would not be able to collect life insurance, couldn’t share property,” Dr. Sands told The Bahama Journal yesterday.

“Cabinet has the ability to make any other ruling, in conjunction with the attorney general and the coroner, so but typically, it’s seven years.  So, if you’re a missing person, it’s impossible to get closure because you don’t know whether it’s going to just show up next week.”  

The official hurricane death toll is 51 and if the bodies recovered so far are unable to be identified, Dr. Sands said they would be retained for a period of time while the process of going through the missing persons list is completed and families try to identify their loved ones.

“Samples of DNA have been taken from those autopsies already completed and I’m advised that we have done at least 25 autopsies in Abaco already. At some point in time, a determination would be made as to whether or not bodies would be removed from the cold storage and properly buried,” he said.

“Once bodies are removed from the coolers, if they are not embalmed then they deteriorate.  So you remove from the cooler, you have to bury them. While they are in the cooler they can stay there indefinitely.”

Yesterday, Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson announced that 43 dead bodies were recovered in Abaco and eight in Grand Bahama.  

“We recognize that many persons are presumed missing and we anticipate the discovery of more deceased persons, as the process of search and recovery progresses. As there are many more persons presume missing, since they have not been seen or heard from since the passage of hurricane Dorian, we are appealing to family members to file missing person’s reports with the police,” Ferguson said.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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