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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lost at sea without food: Eat the dead

This is a story of what humans can do for survival, and is also a pointer to the moral challenges that people face. In October 2008, a group of 33 Dominican immigrants were trying to reach Puerto Rico by boat when they were reported missing by relatives in mid-October. Survivors said they lost their way after the captain abandoned the ship. Slowly, these immigrants, wracked by hunger, thirst and the vagaries of the sea, started dying. As people died, their bodies were thrown in the sea. This trip is something that is repeated many times every year, with Dominican immigrants trying to reach Puerto Rico in the hundreds every year, making their way through a treacherous passage called the Mona Passage.
Near the end, the remaining 5 survivors, reaching their limit, finally gave up on the distaste they would have felt, and survived on the flesh of their last died member. Eating human flesh is considered a taboo in almost all human cultures, and there are severe punishments for people found doing that; but it has been known to happen before when, faced with survival problems, people have resorted to eating the flesh of their dead companions.
Eventually, the last 5 survivors were rescued by the US Coast Guard, too late for one of them, the last woman in the group, who died shortly after the rescue.

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