No decision yet taken on burial of migrants’ bodies

DNA profiling of half of the migrants yet to be carried out • Badly decomposed bodies ‘causing odours’ at the mortuary

29 bodies were recovered from the wooden fishing boat
29 bodies were recovered from the wooden fishing boat

No decision on the burial of the migrants who perished on 19 July has yet been taken, a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Ministry said.

The bodies of 29 migrants who lost their lives at sea were recovered from a fishing boat on which some 400 migrants were travelling. The bodies were recovered by the Armed Forces of Malta and the Maritime Squadron after the boat was towed to Malta.

But before the bodies can be buried, forensic experts must carry out a DNA profiling of the cadavers. Although the bodies have not been identified, a DNA profiling is required in the eventuality that the bodies are claimed by relatives and verification tests are required.

The burial is also being delayed due to a joint investigation being carried out with the Italian authorities on the incident. Italian authorities have arrested five men on suspicion of stabbing over 100 migrants packed into the small fishing vessel and then throwing them overboard.

The cause of death of the 29 migrants has been listed as drowning following a stampede that is believed to have been caused during the transfer of migrants from the ship to a merchant vessel.

Panic broke out on the lower deck as fumes from the motor made it hard for passengers to breathe. Fighting broke out as those trapped below struggled to get out and find fresh air. The bodies were recovered from the boat's lower deck.

DNA profiling has been carried out on half of the bodies while a magisterial inquiry is still awaiting the results of toxicology tests.

The autopsy on the 29 bodies was carried out between Sunday afternoon and Tuesday morning at Mater Dei’s mortuary where the bodies are being kept.

MaltaToday is informed that the bodies are being kept either in a fridge or at room temperature.

The badly decomposed bodies are causing odours that are affecting mortuary staff and relatives and friends who visit the mortuary to give their last goodbyes to their deceased loved ones.