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article imageVenezuelan migrant shipwreck dead rises to 20

By AFP     Dec 14, 2020 in World

At least 20 Venezuelan migrants died when a ship heading for Trinidad and Tobago sank, the public prosecutor's office said on Monday.

Over the weekend the Venezuelan government said 14 bodies had been recovered either at sea or washed up on a beach.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab said on Twitter the public ministry had ordered the arrest of "whoever owns the 'Mis Recuerdos' boat that sank, leaving at least 20 people dead" on Saturday off the northeastern coast near the town of Guiria.

The public prosecutor has opened an investigation into "human trafficking" and ordered the arrest of six people.

At the weekend, the government said 11 bodies were recovered at sea on Saturday while another three were found on a beach the next day.

Boats that are barely sea-worthy and loaded with Venezuelan migrants fleeing an economic crisis that has left millions in abject poverty often leave Guiria heading for Trinidad.

Around 100 people disappeared trying to make the crossing between 2018 and 2019.

Venezuela's opposition has hit out at mafia groups that operate between Venezuela and Trinidad, accusing the government of complicity.

Saab said local authorities were also being investigated.

Last month Trinidad deported 160 Venezuelans it accused of entering the country illegally.

The United Nations estimates that five million Venezuelans have left the country since 2015 with Venezuela wracked by economic and political crises.

Some 25,000 of those have gone to Trinidad, a dual-island country of 1.3 million.

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