Post mortems on the remains of 14 bodies found in a drifting boat off Tobago on Friday are to start today or tomorrow and continue for several days.
National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds confirmed this to Guardian Media yesterday.
The gruesome discovery occurred last Friday morning when fishermen went out to sea from their base in Belle Garden and spotted the boat four miles offshore.
What was initially thought to be four bodies, turned out to be 14 along with a skull and bones.
Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) chairman Allan Stewart was quoted as saying several bodies were dismembered.
The bodies, dressed in track pants and green rain jackets, were in advanced states of decomposition.
The boat was towed into Belle Garden and brought ashore.
Up to yesterday, it remained along the roadway near to the beach as Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) continue forensic examinations.
Hinds said the origin of the vessel is not yet officially confirmed.
While there was no name on the vessel, there have been reports that the numbers on the vessel—AG231—were traced to Angola.
The high-pointed prow structure of the boat is similar to boats from that African country, based on the shape of a dhow—the ship of trade used by the Swahili. Such vessels can carry up to 20 or 30 people and usually have sails, although none was seen on the boat discovered on Friday.
Hinds added that the human remains are being COVID-tested before post-mortems begin.
The post mortems, being done on consecutive days, will establish the cause or causes of death.
Yesterday, Tobago officials said pathologist would do the post mortems in Tobago.
The bodies were taken to Scarborough mortuary last Friday.
They said one engine and a fuel tank was found in the vessel as well as a cell phone and a Global Positioning System (GPS).
However, the latter two must be tested to see if they are working since the vessel had apparently been exposed to extreme weather for a long time, judging from the bodies’ state of decomposition.
“We believe from results of the post mortems and the items found— whether there are water containers or so—we’ll be able to ascertain what happened and hopefully bring closure to those connected to them who may be wondering about them.”