(Updated) Autopsies ordered for 14 bodies found on boat

Police officers at Belle Garden, Tobago where the boat with 14 bodies was dragged ashore. - Photo by David Reid
Police officers at Belle Garden, Tobago where the boat with 14 bodies was dragged ashore. - Photo by David Reid

The head of the Tobago Division has said the police are close to determining the origin of the boat that was discovered with 14 decomposing bodies drifting off the coast of Belle Garden, Tobago, early on Friday.

“We are pursuing the country of registration. We have received some unofficial news, which we will not disclose because we do not want to give information that is not authentic,” ACP William Nurse told Sunday Newsday.

“But, we are a little clearer than we were yesterday in ascertaining which country the boat was registered in.”

Nurse also made it clear the police, at this time, had no evidence to suggest that the 14 decomposing bodies that were found in the vessel are victims of a homicide.

“I just want to put to rest some fears to rest. I would like it to be accurately reported that at this time police do not have any evidence to suggest that anybody is responsible for murder or any evidence to dispel it is not a murder.”

He added: “Our position is we have asked for a forensic post-mortem examination and we are going to get that.”

Nurse said after the post-mortem is carried out the police will be in a better position to determine whether or not there was a homicide.

“But we are closer than we were yesterday in determining which country the boat was registered in. That is as far as we have reached today.”

Nurse said the public will be informed of developments.

“This is something that requires the public being informed.”

Fishermen Jason Broomes, Doyle Cornwall and Lance Biggart saw the boat drifting about four miles of the coast of Belle Garden shortly after 7 am on Friday.

The men later found decomposing bodies in the vessel, which they towed to the shore.

A skull and other skeletal remains were also discovered in the boat.

The police and Coast Guard were called in and a command post, comprising various security and health agencies, including the Tobago Emergency Management Agency and the office of the County Medical Officer of Health, was quickly set up.

Vice-president of the Tobago All Fisherfolk Association Junior Quashie said the boat, which is still on the shore at Clark’s Bay, poses a serious health risk in the village.

Quashie said he visited the area on Saturday and was appalled by the smell coming from it.

“I went up Belle Garden and the place stink,” he told Sunday Newsday.

Quashie called on the authorities to sanitise the boat and its immediate surroundings.

“It look like they just throw water from the boat down on the beach.”

Quashie said the fisherman in the area are crying out for help.

“It is ridiculous. The boat is there with all of the clothes that the people had on who died.

“But they have to remove this thing and make the place smell a little good, please.”

Meanwhile, THA Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis described the discovery of the boat and the decomposing bodies as “a sad situation.”

But he said he could not comment further owing to the lack of information.

“The facts surrounding this incident are still unclear. Therefore, I don’t have much to say at this time,” he said.

This story was originally published with the title "Police close to determining origin of boat with 14 bodies" and has been adjusted to include additional details. See original post below.

The head of the Tobago Division said the police is close to determining the origin of the boat that was discovered with 14 decomposing bodies drifting off the coast of Belle Garden, Tobago, early on Friday.

“We are pursuing the country of registration. We have received some unofficial news, which we will not disclose because we do not want to give information that is not authentic,” ACP William Nurse told Sunday Newsday.

“But, we are a little clearer than we were yesterday in ascertaining which country the boat was registered in.”

Nurse also made it clear the police, at this time, had no evidence to suggest that the 14 decomposing bodies that were found in the vessel were victims of a homicide.

“I just want to put to rest some fears to rest. I would like it to be accurately reported that at this time police does not have any evidence to suggest that anybody is responsible for murder or any evidence to dispel it is not a murder.”

He said: “Our position is we have asked for a forensic post mortem examination and we are going to get that.”

Nurse said after the post mortem is carried out the police will be in a better position to determine whether or not there was a homicide.

“But we are closer than we were yesterday in determining which country the boat was registered in. That is as far as we have reached today."

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"(Updated) Autopsies ordered for 14 bodies found on boat"

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