(CMR) A boat with 20 dead people, including two children, on board was found drifting about a mile off Grand Turk last week.
The boat was seen by fishermen who alerted the marine branch of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, which towed the boat ashore.
Authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands said investigators had ruled out foul play but were still trying to determine what happened. Officials were also trying to determine the identities and origin of the people in the boat.
In a statement, the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force said: “Whilst the deaths are unexplained, there is no indication of foul play, and investigators are keeping an open mind as to how these people met their deaths.”
Police Commissioner Trevor Botting said that the boat likely came from outside of the Caribbean and that Turks and Caicos was likely its final destination.
“It is believed that the boat originates from outside of the Caribbean region and that neither the Turks and Caicos Islands nor the region was their intended destination,” Botting said.
The British Overseas Territory has been known to be a midpoint for human smuggling boats traveling from Haiti, Sri Lanka, and India to the US.
Botting said the police would work to establish the identity of the persons so their families can be identified.
“Whatever the circumstances, this is a tragic situation where many people have lost their lives, and the thoughts and prayers of the force go out to those families who have lost a loved one. We will do all we can to identify them and contact their families,” he said.