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Nine African migrants buried in secular ceremony in Brazil

Police and firefighters attend the burial of nine unidentified migrants at the Sao Jorge cemetery, in Belem, Para state, Brazil, Thursday, April 25, 2024.   -  
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Paulo Santos/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved


The bodies of nine African migrants found on a boat off the northern coast of Brazil were buried Thursday (Apr. 25) during a secular ceremony in the city of Belem.

The ceremony was organized by groups involved in the recovery of the bodies. The U.N. Refugee Agency, the Red Cross and the International Organization for Migration, as well as Brazilian police, navy and civil defense agencies, were among those groups.

Authorities said the manner of the burial would allow for subsequent exhumations in case families of the deceased were located and wished to transfer the bodies back to their home countries.

The 9 corpses likely Mauritanian and Malian migrants were found by Brazilian fishermen, on April 13, on a boat adrift.

The roughly 12-meter vessel was carrying 25 raincoats and 27 mobile phones, suggesting the original number of passengers was significantly higher.

This also implies that people of other nationalities may have been among the deceased, local officials have said.

Brazilian officials believe the boat had departed Mauritania after Jan. 17. Its passengers most likely aimed to enter Europe via Spain’s Canary Islands.

Brazil’s criminology institute in the capital Brasilia is carrying out forensic examinations of the remains, and the Federal Police say they are in contact with Interpol and foreign organizations to provide eventual results.

An Associated Press investigation published last year revealed that in 2021 at least seven boats from northwest Africa were found in the Caribbean and Brazil.

All carried dead bodies, like the vessel found in Para.

So far, none of the victims have been identified.

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