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Wednesday, 21 March, 2001, 20:19 GMT
Dominican castaways 'ate human flesh'
Carlos Pinales
Carlos Pinales denies cannibalism
A survivor from a ship that broke down and drifted for three weeks without power says those on board ate the bodies of fellow passengers to stay alive.

Every night someone died and in the morning the others would cut them up and eat them

Survivor Carlos Pinales
Only three of the 60 passengers from the Dominican Republic, who boarded the boat in an illegal attempt to migrate to Puerto Rico, survived after it hit a coral reef off Haiti and sank.

One of those rescued died in hospital the following day.

Carlos Pinales, 19, who was returned to the Dominican Republic by the Haitian authorities, said: "Every night someone died and in the morning the others would cut them up and eat them."

He said he did not eat any human flesh, but a doctor has said it would have been impossible for him to survive otherwise.

Passengers abandoned

Mr Pinales said the two captains who organized the illegal trip collected 4,000 pesos ($240) from each passenger, and then deserted them.

They left the group in a boat in the south-eastern resort town of La Romana, leaving them to brave the perilous eastern voyage across the Mona Passage alone.

The boat's engine died just within sight of Puerto Rico, on the second day at sea. It began drifting west, ending up hundreds of miles in the opposite direction.

Without food or water, people began dying after several days adrift.

Mr Pinales said that at first, the bodies were thrown overboard. But as things became desperate, the voyagers began to eat the bodies.

In a Dominican government report, Mr Pinales is quoted as saying that fights broke out among the dehydrated and hungry voyagers.

Some people were injured in the fights, but it is not clear if those injuries led to any deaths.

Bodies wash ashore

The identity of the other survivor, who drifts in and out of consciousness, has yet to be confirmed.

Sixteen bodies of victims were washed ashore at Ile-a-Vache, an island off southern Haiti; 13 had to be buried in a common grave because they were so decomposed.

The bodies of about 40 others have never been found.

Each year, thousands of Dominicans set out by boat to reach Puerto Rico.

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17 Mar 01 | Americas
Thirty feared drowned in Caribbean
09 Mar 00 | Americas
Ten die in Caribbean shipwreck
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