Cuba apologizes to Canada for delivering wrong body to grieving family

FILE PHOTO: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Havana

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba apologized to Canada on Wednesday after authorities accidentally delivered the remains of another man to a Canadian family grieving the loss of a loved one who died while vacationing on the Caribbean island in March.

Faraj Jarjour, a Canadian citizen of Syrian descent, died of a heart attack in the Varadero beach resort two hours east of Havana on March 22, according to a report by Canada's CBC news agency.

Weeks later, his family was shocked to find the body of a tattooed man many years younger in the casket delivered from Cuba to a funeral home near Montreal, the family told the CBC. The body delivered looked nothing like their father, the family said.

The identity of the body delivered was not clear.

Cuba's foreign minister Bruno Rodriguez said on social media Wednesday that he had spoken with his Canadian counterpart Melanie Joly about the "unfortunate incident."

"Cuban authorities (are) investigating to clarify the incident," Rodriguez said. "I conveyed heartfelt condolences and apologies to relatives and friends of the deceased."

Jarjour`s family continues to await the delivery of their father`s body from Cuba, now more than a month since his passing.

Cuba`s state-run media has not reported on details surrounding the accidental delivery.

The island remains a popular destination among Canadians despite a grinding economic crisis that has led to shortfalls in food, fuel and medicine

Canada foreign minister Joly confirmed she had spoken with Rodriguez and said Canadian officials were working with Cuba to resolve the mix-up over Jarjour`s body.

"We share the utmost concern for the unimaginable situation his family faces," Joly said on social media.

(This story has been refiled to correct a typo in the headline)

(Reporting by Dave Sherwood; Editing by Josie Kao)