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Vacation death: Cuba apologizes after Canadian family receives wrong remains

Click to play video: 'Wrong body sent to grieving family after father died on vacation'
Wrong body sent to grieving family after father died on vacation
The family of a Quebec man who died on vacation in Cuba is desperate to find his body. They had to fly home without him last month and when his remains finally returned to Canada late last week, the family was told there was a mistake. A stranger's body was in the casket. Global's Amanda Jelowicki reports – Apr 22, 2024

Cuba issued an apology after the wrong remains were sent to Canada late last week following the sudden death of a Laval, Que., man on vacation.

The Caribbean country’s foreign affairs addressed the mix up on social media Wednesday, calling it an “unfortunate incident.”

Bruno Rodríguez said Cuban authorities are investigating and he was in contact with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly.

“I conveyed heartfelt condolences and apologies to relatives and friends of the deceased,” Rodríguez said.

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The public statement comes after the handling of Faraj Allah Jarjour‘s remains made international headlines earlier this week.

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The Jarjour siblings said their 68-year-old father suffered a sudden heart attack in the water on March 22 during a family trip in Cuba. His death was confirmed by a doctor and his body was removed from the beach several hours later.

The family said they were in contact with the Canadian consulate. After being informed they could not bring him back on the same flight, his daughter Miriam Jarjour said she paid $10,000 to ensure his remains would be returned to Canada.

But the Jarjour siblings were shocked when another man’s body arrived at the Montreal airport late last week. The funeral home in Montreal informed them the remains inside the casket didn’t match their father’s description.

The other man’s body has since been returned to Russia, but the family had to cancel Jarjour’s funeral and they don’t know what happened to their father.

“We’re sad because my father died,” Karam Jarjour said in an interview Monday. “But we’re more sad because my father is we don’t know where.”

Miriam Jarjour said her family has since been reimbursed $10,000 by Cuban authorities.

Joly also addressed the mistake on social media Wednesday, saying both her and Cuban counterpart “share the utmost concern for the unimaginable situation” the family faces.

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“Canada will continue to help the Jarjour family until this situation is resolved,” Joly said.

— with files from Global’s Amanda Jelowicki and The Canadian Press

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