© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Police and firemen carry a bag off their search boat from the marshland in Akwesasne, Quebec, Canada March 31, 2023. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi
By David Shepardson
(Reuters) – Police in Canada on Saturday identified two victims among eight bodies recovered from two families who died this week trying to enter the United States from Canada by boat across the St. Lawrence River.
The Akwesasne Mohawk Police Service said 28-year-old Florin Iordache died and had two Canadian passports in his possession for a two-year-old and one-year-old whose bodies were also recovered. Police also identified 28-year-old victim Cristina (Monalisa) Zenaida Iordache.
Police believe the tragedy may have occurred on Wednesday night in poor weather and were searching for a missing person of interest in the case. His boat was found near the area where the victims were recovered.
Deputy Chief Lee-Ann O’Brien said Friday the victims appeared to be from two families, one Indian and one Romanian, who were trying to the reach the United States illegally.
President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed last week to stop asylum seekers coming to Canada through unofficial border crossings, a move critics said could prompt refugees and migrants to take more risks when crossing.
Akwesasne police said the agreement closing all unofficial border entries, including Roxham Road in Quebec, should not have factored here because the families were seeking to go to the United States, not Canada.
Last year an Indian family of four froze to death in Canada’s province of Manitoba as they were trying to cross into the United States.
The Akwesasne reserve straddles both sides of the St. Lawrence River, with land in Ontario and Quebec on the Canadian side, and New York.
More people have been using Akwesasne territory to furtively try to enter the United States, with 80 interceptions recorded this year, and the majority have been Indians or Romanians, said Dulude.