20 Suspected Haitian Migrants Found Dead On Boat In Brazil: Police

(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AFP

Rio de Janeiro: Twenty suspected Haitian migrants have been found dead in a boat in northern Brazil, their bodies in an advanced state of decomposition and showing signs of dehydration and hunger, police said Saturday.

Fishermen alerted the authorities after finding the boat adrift near the town of Braganca, which sits on Brazil's northern coast in the state of Para, a federal police spokesman told AFP.

"According to civil police and forensics experts, there were 20 bodies. The federal police chief for Braganca, Alexandre Calvinho, said they were believed to be Haitian refugees," police said in a statement.

"However, further investigation is needed to confirm the cause of death and the victims' identities."

Forensics experts will also have to confirm the exact number of victims, it said.

Emergency workers towed the boat to shore after being alerted by the fishermen.

The victims "are believed to have died of hunger and dehydration, but further analysis is required. The investigation is ongoing," police said.

The federal prosecutors' office said in a statement it had opened both criminal and civil investigations on the case.

Local media reports said fishermen found the small boat on a remote Atlantic Ocean beach between the towns of Braganca and Quatipuru.

Haiti is in the grips of a deepening humanitarian and security crisis.

The United Nations migration agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), said this month the situation there is driving an exodus from the country.

"For most Haitians, the prospect of regular migration remains an insurmountable hurdle, leaving irregular migration as their only semblance of hope," it said.


The Peninsula

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