FALLS IN THE SEA | Additional news
In April of this year, a 17-year-old girl named Aicha boarded a boat with 58 men, women and children in Mauritania, a country in West Africa, and left for Europe.
Within two days, their food and water were depleted.
On the fourth day, the fuel for the engines was exhausted.
The boat began to drift in the merciless Atlantic Ocean, with no land or ship in sight.
People started screaming for water. A human can only survive without it for three days.
They drank the sea water. And then they started to die.
We know all this because when a Spanish Air Force helicopter finally spotted the boat on April 26, it had been adrift at sea for 22 days, 500 kilometers from the Canary Islands that it was attempting to reach. achieve.
And the only people alive, unable to stand or move, were Aicha and two others, sitting on top of the dead.
“It was a mass grave in the middle of the sea,” said the rescue pilot.
Aicha would get over it, to tell her story to the BBC.
“There were men who could no longer stand and who were screaming with thirst. Please, please they begged I need to drink water, can someone please give me water?
The strongest tried to feed it with a shoe dipped in the sea.
“At the beginning we said a prayer. In the end, we didn’t even have the strength to do it. We didn’t even have the strength to throw a body in the water anymore, ”Aicha said.
What this child endured and witnessed is probably what happened to migrants on board the five fishing boats that have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean in recent months.
By the time they came into sight of the islands and South and Central America, those on board were dead, some mummified by salt and sun, others reduced to bones.
We will never know how many corpses were thrown overboard until everyone died.
Nor may it ever be known whether the migrants all encountered the same fateful circumstances as they sailed towards their European dream – storms, sea fog, piracy – sending the boats adrift, caught by winds and currents. dominant in an ocean of over 106 million. square kilometers in area.
GUIANA – February 15
A fishing boat was first spotted about 83 nautical miles off Guyana. According to those who approached, the boat was about 20 to 25 feet long, had no engine and between five and ten bodies were seen.
Guyanese authorities mobilized a rescue effort and carried out air and sea searches while an energy company with offshore assets was asked to locate and tow the boat to shore.
But the boat could not be located when resources were sent to the area, and the ship is believed to have sunk along with its human cargo.
NICARAGUA – March 2
A similar fishing boat was found off the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua with six decomposing bodies on board.
Nicaragua’s Interior Ministry said a passport from the Republic of Guinea (a country on the west coast of Africa) belonging to a 31-year-old man was found on one of the bodies and that all of the victims may have died of dehydration and heat stroke.
ARUBA – May 18
A Dutch Caribbean Coast Guard aircraft patrolling the waters off Aruba spotted a boat swaying in the waves 120 miles north of the island.
The flight crew reported seeing a body on board with no signs of life.
A Coast Guard vessel sent to investigate discovered a boat full of bodies – new from what they could see, in an advanced state of decay.
The plan was to tow the boat to shore, but the dangerous seas broke the towline and, overnight, it drifted out of sight. The rescue effort was abandoned and shipping traffic and neighboring countries were urged to search for this floating mass grave.
It is believed that the boat broke and sank.
TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS
On June 24, authorities in Turks and Caicos found and brought ashore a fishing boat found adrift off the coast. It contained 20 bodies.
Work continues to identify the deceased with the help of international law enforcement partners and the UK’s diplomatic channels, Police Commissioner Trevor Botting said.
“We have worked closely with our partners in the UK and other international law enforcement agencies to work as quickly and efficiently as possible to identify the deceased and establish the circumstances that have led to their death. Her Majesty’s Coroner was heavily involved in this regard. The deceased are believed to have originated from the west coast of Africa, and neither the Turks and Caicos Islands nor the region was their intended destination. While details of the planned voyage are not yet established, we believe the vessel is linked to a similar vessel found in Tobago waters. We are in contact with the authorities there. “
Commissioner Botting added: “This is a terrible loss of life, and I want to express my condolences to the families of those who died. Further, I would like to thank the investigators and the RTCIPF support team for all the hard work done so far in this tragic and painful case. We will continue to do our best to bring the remains of those who have died back to their homes to their loved ones. “
TOBAGO – May 28
Tobago woke up to learn that a boat full of corpses was being towed into the harbor at Belle Garden on the island’s Atlantic coast.
An initial count of four bodies rose to ten, and by the time crime scene investigators separated the emaciated bodies, dressed in sweatpants and green rain jackets, they had counted 14 and a skull and bone.
It turns out that the boat (AG 231), which was stolen, left from Mauritania, the same country Aicha fled in a fishing boat similar to the one that drifted to Tobago.
All the boats were of similar design and color: sky blue and white.
Not surprisingly since in 2010, the country was reported as the preferred transit point for African migrants trying to reach Europe, with its port city of Nouadhibou, located 800 kilometers southeast of the Spanish Canary Islands, becoming a starting hub.
Humanitarian organizations that track the exodus report that thousands of people are entering Mauritania (Aicha came from her native country in Côte d’Ivoire), in particular from Senegal and Mali, to go to the Canary Islands.
Deputy Police Commissioner (Tobago) William Nurse told The Express on Thursday he was preparing a final report on what was discovered to send to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith.
He said police identified the bodies using the boat’s registration, fingerprints obtained from some victims and cell phones recovered from the bodies – seven phones from Mauritania and Mali.
As to whether Tobago would be the final resting place for West Africans, Nurse said, through the International Red Cross, Interpol and diplomatic contacts, an effort would be made to determine whether the fingerprints correspond to someone registered in Mauritania, and therefore establish the date on which the boat left West Africa.
He said the police commissioner, using the investigation report, could make this request through the Minister of National Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Caricom.
The nurse also disclosed previously unknown details.
Among the bodies on the boat, one appeared to have more hair and was less decomposed than the others.
“This person could have been the last to die, and it was perhaps the most horrific,” he said.
In Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, the 56 people who died on Aicha’s boat were buried in a cemetery overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.