Plans to build morgue on Ambergris Caye commence
Thursday, April 20th, 2017
A morgue on Ambergris Caye may become a reality, after a meeting involving Mayor Daniel Guerrero, officials from the Ministry of Health, the police and the U.S Embassy took place on Wednesday, April 19th. Officials gathered at The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) conference room, where their discussion not only spoke on the importance of having a morgue on the island, but also addressed the current limitations of the police department and local authorities.
According to Georgia Belezaire from the U.S Embassy, the first phase of the morgue will include a temporary unit where bodies can be kept before transporting them off the island. “We are looking at a three-body refrigerated room, which will benefit the preservation of evidence,” she said. Belezaire declared that the Embassy is in full support of the project.
Mayor Guerrero indicated that land has been allocated for the morgue to be built near the cemetery south of town. “We’ve been criticised a few times from the diplomatic corps whenever a foreign national passes away on the island, because we do not have the proper installations to preserve the body,” said Guerrero. “At the moment, we assist the police with canvas body bags in which the bodies are then transported to the Belize City.”
Officer in Charge of the Coastal Executive Unit, Henry Jemmott indicated their challenges when it comes to dealing with a body, including taking up to 25 minutes before a body can be transported off the island. “However, when something happens late in the evening, or if the weather is too bad to transport the body, we need to find other alternatives to preserve the body until we can move it,” said Jemmott. In some cases, the body of the victim is chilled with ice bags in order to slow down decomposition and avoid loss of important evidence. With an average of up to four persons dying on the island in a given week, it was agreed that when the morgue is expanded, it should at least have room for eight bodies.
After the meeting, the group visited the Dr. Otto Rodriguez San Pedro Polyclinic II where they toured the facilities. They also went to the potential morgue site, and even visited the police station as well.
A follow up meeting was scheduled for Friday, May 19th at 9:30AM at the SPTC conference room, to continue discussing the plans for the construction of the morgue.