By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
LEADERS of the local Haitian community are planning to visit several neighbourhoods in New Providence in an effort to locate the families of those who lost their lives in Sunday’s human smuggling incident.
“We are trying now to look into the process of finding the family members. Some of the people don’t want to come forward at this time and we are trying to get more information,” a local Haitian leader, who asked to remain anonymous, told The Tribune yesterday.
Police said some 50 people were travelling on a twin engine vessel that was enroute to Miami, Florida, from New Providence when it overturned in rough seas early Sunday morning.
Seventeen Haitian migrants, including a young girl, were confirmed to have died as a result of the incident, with several people said to be still missing.
Meanwhile, 25 people, including two Bahamian men, have since been rescued. Another man was arrested in connection with the incident on Sunday night.
Police Commissioner Clayton Fernander said investigators had collected some identification that was found on the deceased.
Still, he appealed for anyone with information on the tragedy or who suspects their loved one was among the dead to contact them.
The Tribune understands that an emergency meeting was supposed to be held by local Haitian leaders last night to determine how best to respond to the tragedy.
“In those kinds of incidents, a lot of people don’t bring themselves forward and many are afraid and so we have to go in the community itself,” another leader, who asked to remain anonymous, added.
Shortly after news of the boating incident broke, photos of the deceased were widely circulated on social media, sparking outrage in some circles.
Yesterday, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe was asked about police protocol to guard against such incidents.
He said: “There’s a force order against that in the police force and the defence force and it would be a matter of discovering how it happened. In every circumstance, the persons present are always only law enforcement and so the starting point will be to discover if its circulated by law enforcement or by a civilian who was present.
“We can’t control civilians. We can control law enforcement and we can subject them to discipline, but we cannot subject civilians to discipline.”
Government officials are also communicating with Haitian community leaders to help identify the deceased.
Meanwhile, rescue operations are said to be continuing.