Police officers are seeking the assistance of Interpol in identifying the 14 decomposing bodies and human remains found on a boat adrift off the coast of Belle Garden, Tobago, in May.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs Ministry is awaiting feedback from authorities in Mauritania and Mali, where those on the boat are believed to have originated.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Amery Browne yesterday confirmed the ministry had recently contacted authorities in both countries on the matter, after police asked them to assist.
Police officers in Tobago also confirmed the move to seek Interpol’s help soon after documents were submitted to that agency this week.
Local police concluded the vessel to be from Mauritania, after an inspection on the boat uncovered seven mobile phones and foreign currency among the corpses.
Police said the phones had information pertaining to the West African countries of Mauritania and Mali. The bodies remain at the Tobago morgue and the vessel under guard.
The boat, which drifted to Tobago, has now become part of the history of so-called “ghost boats” carrying migrants from African countries which have been lost along the Canary Route, known for treacherous currents.
The boat which was adrift off Tobago, was reported on The Canary website in a June article, titled “Ghost Boats: A Mauritanian cayuco (canoe) in the Caribbean highlights those lost on The Canary Route.”
The article stated, “There has not been a month in recent times during which one or two vessels have not disappeared from Mauritania on this route, of which nothing more has been heard in more than a year.
“In most cases, these boats disappear without a trace, capsize, break up and are swallowed by the ocean. But, sometimes, rarely, the trade winds and the currents that make up the great oceanic churn manage to carry an intact cayuco to the Americas, drifting the same route Christopher Columbus inaugurated in 1492: from the Canary Islands to the Caribbean sea.”
The article added that in Tenerife (Portugal), 24 recent graves, with anonymous tombstones, were evidence of the fate of one group of migrants.
“It is a danger to which the thousands of young Africans who attempt to travel the Canary Route, towards some European dream, subject themselves in flimsy fishing vessels, to end up exposed to the harsh realities of the ocean: where death by thirst, surrounded by water, is still all too common.”
The article also noted that a canoe was found drifting off Barbados in May 2006. It left for the Canary Islands from Cape Verde, carrying 47 young Senegalese, at the end of 2005.
Eleven decomposed bodies were recovered from the vessel.