The four Indian nationals whose bodies were among eight corpses extracted from the St. Lawrence River last week were traveling to Canada on tourist visas, a police official from their home state said Monday.

Eight people – four from India and four from Romania – have died trying to enter the United States illegally from Canada, via the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne, which straddles Montérégie, Ontario and the United States. New York State.

Achal Tyagi, municipal police superintendent of Mehsana, in the western Indian state of Gujarat, confirmed to La Presse Canadienne that the four Indians who died last week were members of the Chaudhari family: father, Praveenbhai Chaudhari, 50, mother, Dakshaben, 45, son, Meet, 20, and daughter, Vidhi, 23.

Mr. Praveenbhai was a farmer, Superintendent Tyagi said, adding that the family was from Mehsana district, which has a population of around 1.8 million. Indian police have opened an investigation and met with members of the Chaudhari family on Monday, he said.

“They had been in Canada for two months. And they left here on a Canadian visa,” he said in a phone interview from Gujarat. “But it’s unclear exactly what happened in Canada and why they were going to the United States. »

The police are liaising with the Canadian Embassy in India and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Tyagi also said. The investigation is in its early stages and few new details were known Monday, he said.

“At this time, the information we have is that (this) family had gone to Canada on a tourist visa. And they only traveled to Canada. They were also talking to their family members (in India). That’s what some family members told us. So, let’s wait and see,” Mr. Tyagi added. “Once more details emerge, we can have a clearer picture. »

Meanwhile, in Akwesasne, there was still no sign Monday afternoon of the missing Mohawk community man whose boat was found near where the bodies of the eight migrants were removed of the river last week.

Akwesasne Mohawk Police have been searching for 30-year-old Casey Oakes since last Thursday. Officers found the bodies of the victims while still searching for Mr. Oakes in the waters of the river.

Mr. Oakes was last seen Wednesday evening at the controls of the boat in Mohawk territory, but police have not established any direct link between him and the deaths of the migrants.

The police revealed that the eight victims belonged to a family of Romanian origin and another of Indian origin. Mohawk police had identified two of the migrants on Saturday: Cristina (Monalisa) Zenaida Iordache and Florin Iordache, 28. Florin Iordache was carrying Canadian passports for their two young children aged one and two, who are also among the victims.

The Romanian family lived in the suburbs of Toronto. The priest of the Romanian Orthodox Church “All Saints” in Scarborough, said Monday that the community had prayed in particular for this small family during a regular service of commemoration of the deceased, at the end of the week.

“We included them, learning of the tragedy,” said Father Emanuel Țencaliuc in an interview Monday, who also said that the couple’s two children were baptized in his church in June 2022.

“A quiet, shy young family,” the Orthodox priest said. It seems they wanted to attend church and belong to the community. »

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated Monday the importance of having an “orderly” immigration system, in the wake of the deaths of eight migrants, including two children, whose bodies were found last week in the waters of the St. Lawrence River at Akwesasne.

In March, Canada renegotiated the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States to apply to the entire Canada-US border. The objective was thus to turn back migrants who were passing through irregular routes such as Roxham Road.

Migrant rights groups have warned, however, that the new rules will push people to take even greater risks to cross the border, using smugglers, among other things.

Passing through Val-d’Or on Monday, Mr. Trudeau recalled that Canada is welcoming more immigrants than ever, but that it must be done “responsibly” to prevent people from putting themselves in danger.

According to him, Canadians cannot trust a system where people take significant risks and hire “criminals” to help them cross the border.