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02 July 2008 - Media release

Thailand answers INTERPOL appeal for extra facilities for Philippine ferry disaster efforts

BANGKOK, Thailand – In response to a call by INTERPOL for international assistance in the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) efforts in the Philippines following the ferry disaster, Thailand has agreed to provide support to the ongoing efforts in Cebu.

In addition to sending a team of DVI experts, the Thai authorities have also pledged to send five refrigerated containers which are essential in ensuring that the victims’ remains from the June 21 tragedy can be stored appropriately until the identification is made.

INTERPOL is playing a central role on the ground in supporting and co-ordinating the Philippines' DVI efforts for the almost 800 victims who perished during Typhoon Frank. At the Philippines government’s request INTERPOL deployed an Incident Response Team (IRT) which arrived in Cebu City on 29 June.

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, who is visiting the region, praised the Thai authorities for their vital assistance.

"We are very appreciative of the swift and decisive response by the Thai Government and the Royal Thai Police to INTERPOL's appeal,” said Secretary General Noble.

“While we hoped for such a response from Philippine-based companies, when that did not happen, INTERPOL immediately turned to its Thai police colleagues for help and achieved an instant positive reply.

“We now need a shipping company to volunteer to transport these containers urgently to Cebu City where we are co-ordinating DVI efforts with the Philippine authorities,” added Mr Noble. ”The need for these and other refrigerated containers to be in place as quickly as possible is all the more vital as more recovered bodies arrive in Cebu City.”

Secretary General Noble emphasised that the hours and days following this type of disaster were crucial to the recovery and identification of the victims, and that he hoped Thailand’s actions in this respect would serve as an example for other countries to follow.

The immediate need for the on-site DVI teams is for temporary mortuary sites equipped to conduct post mortem examinations in accordance with international best practices and protocols in accordance with INTERPOL’s internationally recognised DVI guidelines.

INTERPOL’s IRT team, which includes DVI experts and a representative from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP), is working directly under the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation's ongoing disaster victim identification efforts in Cebu City.