DVI expertise in the field
Since 2004, a total of 12 disaster victim identification (DVI) teams have been deployed to disasters across the world. Some examples are below.
Advising the Congolese authorities
Following a plane crash which killed 23 people in March 2011, an INTERPOL team was dispatched to Pointe-Noire in the Republic of the Congo. The Congolese Government set up a joint committee to investigate the accident and INTERPOL was requested by the Congolese authorities to assist and advise the Scientific Police of the Congo with regard to the DVI procedure.
Supporting Uganda after terrorist attacks
In July 2010, an INTERPOL Response Team was sent to Kampala, Uganda, following bombing attacks on a restaurant and social club during the final match of the FIFA World Cup. The attacks left more than 70 people dead and at least 70 others seriously injured. DVI experts played a central role on the ground, supporting the work of national authorities with their identification efforts. In addition, two Black Notices featuring reconstructed photographs of the suspected suicide bombers were issued and an Orange Notice was published to inform law enforcement authorities worldwide of the modus operandi used by the terrorists.
Assisting France and Brazil following an air tragedy
An INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) assisted the Brazilian and French police in identifying the victims of the Air France AF447 plane tragedy in June 2009, in which 228 people from 32 countries lost their lives. The IRT acted as a liaison point in collecting ante-mortem data (such as dental and medical records, fingerprints and DNA from the victims' homes or family member) and assisted experts leading the operation to collect post mortem data from the remains of the recovered victims. The international co-ordinated effort led to the identification of all 50 recovered victims.
Helping the Philippines to identify ferry victims
Some 1,000 people perished during Typhoon Frank in the Philippines in June 2008, with more than 800 victims from the capsized ferry the Princess of the Stars alone. Eight days later, an INTERPOL Incident Response Team arrived in Cebu City to support the local authorities in identifying the victims.
Comprising DNA and Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) experts and a representative from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), the team played a central role on the ground in supporting the work of the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation in their ongoing DVI efforts.
The IRT showed INTERPOL’s capacity to support a country in a long-term, large-scale specialized operation. Practical requirements included:
- Refrigerated containers to preserve the bodies with dignity;
- Mobile forensic labs for swift and efficient DNA analysis;
- Victim Identification Information Centre for grieving relatives and friends;
- Close co-operation with the ICMP in Sarajevo, which has expertise in large-scale victim identification and the most up-to-date DNA matching techniques.
More than 3,000 DNA samples were collected from victims and from their relatives. Of the 567 bodies recovered from the vessels, 480 were identified using DNA analysis and other traditional methods such as examination of fingerprints and dental records.
DVI in action
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