(CMR) The bodies of at least 20 Venezuelan migrants have been recovered over the weekend as they attempted to flee their country by boat for Trinidad and Tobago.
Some conflicting international reports had the number at 14 confirmed dead but that increased Monday afternoon.
11 bodies were found Saturday at sea and others were discovered on Sunday on nearby beaches according to a statement issued by the Venezuelan government. At least two children were among the dead. The group fled Venezuela last week.
Officials did not say how many people in total were on the boat, but Jesús Villaroel, a Catholic priest, said a group of Venezuelans reported that two boats carrying 20 people each left last week and had disappeared.
The boat reportedly sank on Saturday, December 12 off the northeastern coast near Guiria. The owner of the boat has been detailed according to Attorney General Tarek Williams Saab.
Thousands of Venezuelan migrants have fled the country as a result of political and economical crises since 2018. However, the crisis has gotten worse with no end in sight.
Last month Trinidad and Tobago deported 160 Venezuelans who entered the country illegally. They have been criticized for turning a blind eye to the humanitarian crises which have grown worse with covid-19.
With the latest drowning, the officials in Trinidad and Tobago said its coastguard had not intercepted any boats in recent days, dismissing rumors that the migrants had been turned back by officials from the Caribbean nation.
The United Nations has been calling for greater the 4.6 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants fleeing economic hardship and persecution after reports of widespread exploitation.