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16 April 2014

INTERPOL offers assistance following South Korean ferry disaster

Organization pledges to support victim identification efforts


LYON, France – INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble has offered condolences to the families of the dead and missing in today’s ferry disaster in South Korea, and pledged INTERPOL’s full support to victim identification efforts.

Reports said the ferry, carrying 459 passengers and crew members, capsized while travelling to the resort island of Jeju. As of 12:00 GMT on 16 April, South Korean government officials reported that 164 people had been rescued, four were confirmed dead and 291 were still missing.

“On behalf of the international law enforcement community, INTERPOL extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragedy, as well as those who remain missing,” said Secretary General Noble.

“INTERPOL has offered its assistance to the South Korean authorities in their efforts to respond to and investigate this disaster, through our global network of disaster victim identification experts, around-the-clock communications capabilities and worldwide network of law enforcement contacts,” added the INTERPOL Chief.

When a disaster such as this occurs, INTERPOL can send an Incident Response Team composed of disaster victim identification (DVI) experts to assist local authorities in identifying the victims by carrying out real-time comparisons against INTERPOL’s databases of DNA and fingerprints. Since 2004, a total of 17 disaster victim identification teams have been deployed to disasters across the world.

“The swift and accurate identification of the victims is a main priority following a disaster such as this, and international support and coordination are critical.

“INTERPOL’s previous experience in providing this type of assistance can play an important role, and we will continue to work with our member countries to provide whatever support is required and requested by the South Korean authorities,” concluded Secretary General Noble.

In 2008, more than 800 people died when a ferry capsized in the Philippines during Typhoon Frank. An INTERPOL DVI team played a central role in the identification efforts, using advanced DNA analysis and examinations of fingerprints and dental records to help identify nearly 500 victims, and ensuring that the necessary equipment such as refrigerated containers and mobile forensics labs was available.