Belize Water Services Limited (BWSL) employees unearthed the partial remains of a human skeleton during a routine mid-morning pipe repair exercise in front of the Water Taxi Terminal on North Front Street, Belize City, on Wednesday.
The BWSL backhoe had completed digging across the full width of the street and the workers were shovelling away the remaining dirt in order to repair piping four feet down when they discovered the set of bones, which included most of the rib cage, chest plate, femurs, and a full set of top dentures.
The bones, made brown from years of decay in the ground, are believed to have belonged to someone who perished in either the 1931 category-four Hurricane or the 1961 Hurricane Hattie. Both hurricanes claimed a total of more than 1,800 lives.
Many of the people who died in 1931 were crushed to death when entire buildings, then mostly wooden, collapsed under the force of winds upwards of 125 mph or the storm surge that reached as high as 20 feet.
Photos taken from atop the former Paslow Building at the foot of the Swing Bridge hours after Hattie ripped through the old capital clearly show the bridge inundated by flood water. Video footage show wrecked buildings and countless corpses of people and animals that died in the storm.
Archaeologists who have seen the bones have said that they believe the remains are those of someone who likely died in Hurricane Hattie. They based their conclusions on the condition of the bones themselves and wooden beams that were retrieved nearby, as well as the layers of earth and sand that cover them.
The Scenes of Crimes personnel took away the bones for testing to determine whether the person was the victim of a crime or died a natural death.