On Thursday, Canadian authorities recovered six bodies from the St. Lawrence River, near the border with the United States. On Friday, two more bodies were found, including an infant, bringing the total number of the dead to eight—six adults and two children. Police now say that the deceased, who are believed to have died Wednesday night, were members of two families who were trying to cross the river by boat to make an illegal entry into the US, reports Reuters. Police say the bodies were all found in a marshy area in Tsi Snaihne in Akwesasne, a Mohawk territory, reports the BBC.
Lee-Ann O'Brien, deputy chief of police for the Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service, said at a Friday news conference that the weather Wednesday was bad, with wind, rain, and sleet. She noted that one family appeared to be from India, and the other from Romania. The second child, who authorities say was under the age of 3, had a Canadian passport, and the infant was also a Canadian citizen, O'Brien added. The police department's chief, Shawn Dulude, said that police are searching for Casey Oakes, a 30-year-old local who's now missing, and whose boat was discovered near where the victims were found. Dulude says Oakes has been deemed a person of interest in the case.
All three of the news outlets note that this area in particular has become a hot spot for attempted illegal crossings into the US, some of which have similarly ended in tragedy. "We need to understand properly what happened, how this happened, and do whatever we can to ensure that we're minimizing the chances of it happening again," Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters, calling the deaths "heartbreaking," per Reuters. Police say they're waiting on autopsies and toxicology tests to determine a cause of death for the migrants. (Read more migrants stories.)