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Boat operated by missing man found near bodies of migrants in St. Lawrence River

Authorities say the spot is a popular one for human smuggling
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Searchers dock at a marina in Akwesasne, Que. Friday, March 31, 2023. The search continues for a man missing from the Mohawk community of Akwesasne in an area of the St. Lawrence River where the bodies of eight migrants were recovered earlier this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

The search continues for a missing Akwesasne resident whose boat was found near where eight bodies were pulled from the St. Lawrence River this past week.

Akwesasne Mohawk Police say two of the migrants have been identified as Cristina (Monalisa) Zenaida Iordache, 28, and Florin Iordache, also 28 and who was carrying Canadian passports for the two recovered children, a one-year-old and a two-year-old.

The identities of four Indian nationals have not yet been confirmed.

The police service says they are still looking for 30-year-old Akwesasne resident Casey Oakes, whom officers were searching for when the first bodies were discovered on Thursday.

Oakes was last seen Wednesday night operating a boat that was found next to the migrants’ bodies, but no direct connections have been made between Oakes and the deaths.

Police estimate that there are eight kilometres of waterway to search.

Akwesasne straddles the Canada-U.S. border, with parts of the territory in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

Authorities have said the territory’s unique geography makes it a popular spot for human smugglers, with police making 48 separate interceptions involving 80 people trying to enter the United States illegally since January.

Most of them have been of Indian or Romanian descent.

The Canadian Press

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