20 bodies were found on a boat floating in the Atlantic, and no one knows who they are or how they died

Grand turk island
A catamaran floating off the coast of Grand Turk island. It is not the same boat that was found. Barry Winiker/Getty
  • Twenty bodies were found on a boat drifting near Turks and Caicos on Thursday.
  • Local authorities are working to determine what killed the passengers, and where they came from.
  • Foul play is not suspected, the local police said.
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Authorities in the Turks and Caicos Islands are trying to find out what killed 20 people whose bodies were found on a boat floating near Grand Turk island on Thursday.

Fishermen spotted the boat drifting about a mile off Grand Turk last Thursday morning, and they alerted the marine branch of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force, the Associated Press reported.

In a Friday press release, the police said that while the “deaths are unexplained, there is no indication of foul play.”

“Work is now underway to establish their identity, the cause of death and the circumstances that led them to be found in the Turks and Caicos Islands waters,” the press release said.

Commissioner of Police Trevor Botting said the force believed that the vessel came from outside the Caribbean region, and that neither the Turks and Caicos Islands, nor its surrounding region, was the intended destination.

“My investigators are working to establish their identities and how they met their death. This work will take some time to complete,” he said.

Botting added: “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.”

Boats of migrants have often been intercepted in the waters around Turks and Caicos, the AP reported. Just one hour after the Friday press release about the mysterious boat, police posted about the interception of another boat with 43 Haitian migrants on board.