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Still no sign of missing man whose boat was found near bodies of eight migrants

Police say victims consisted of two families, one of Romanian and another of Indian descent
A police helicopter searches the area in Akwesasne, Que., Friday, March 31, 2023. Authorities in the Mohawk Territory of Akwesasne say the bodies of eight migrants of Indian and Romanian descent were pulled from the river Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

There is still no sign of a missing Akwesasne man whose boat was found where the bodies of eight migrants were pulled from the St. Lawrence River last week.

Akwesasne Mohawk Police have been looking for 30-year-old Casey Oakes since Thursday, whom officers were searching for when the first bodies were discovered.

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

Police have said the eight victims consisted of two families, one of Romanian and another of Indian descent.

Authorities said they were allegedly attempting to illegally cross into the United States from Canada through Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, which straddles provincial and international boundaries and includes regions of Quebec, Ontario and New York state.

Police identified two of the migrants on Saturday as Cristina (Monalisa) Zenaida Iordache, 28, and 28-year-old Florin Iordache, who was carrying Canadian passports for two young children _ aged one and two _ who were among the victims. All four were of Romanian descent.

The identities of four Indian nationals also pulled from the marsh have not yet been confirmed and their next of kin had not been notified.

During an appearance Sunday on a French-language talk show, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts are with those affected by the tragedy, and that he wants to discourage people from putting themselves in danger to cross the border irregularly.

He said that is part of the reason why Canada signed an improvement to the Safe Third Country agreement with the United States to regulate and encourage proper immigration.

He told popular Radio-Canada television show Tout le monde en parle that Canada continues to be an open and welcoming country, “but we privilege people who come in a regular way.”

READ MORE: Migrant death toll rises to 8 after bodies of child, adult found near Quebec/U.S. border