INTERPOL deploys assessment team to assist Philippine authorities after ferry disaster

30 June 2008

LYON, France - An INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) has been deployed to the Philippines to help assess the requirements for the recovery and identification of the victims of the June 21 ferry disaster which claimed the lives of around 800 passengers.

The team, which arrived in Cebu on Sunday at the request of the Philippine government, includes DNA and Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) experts and a representative from the International Commission on Missing Persons (ICMP).

INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble is also travelling to the Philippines where he will meet with senior law enforcement and government officials and the INTERPOL team on the ground to ensure the fullest possible co-operation.

The IRT will carry out an assessment of the DVI requirements for the recovery and identification of the victims, and co-ordinate with the Philippine authorities and INTERPOL member countries with DVI expertise for specialist deployment as required.

'INTERPOL is providing its full assistance to the Philippine authorities in dealing with this tragedy,' said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.

'Our Command and Co-ordination Centre at the General Secretariat headquarters in France has already placed our member countries with specialist DVI teams on stand-by, and once the Incident Response Team on the ground has identified where assistance is required, we can then move quickly in ensuring the experts are deployed as fast as possible.

'We are especially pleased that our IRT will benefit from the expertise of the International Commission on Missing Persons, as the assistance they provided following the Asian tsunami was essential in the victim identification process through DNA comparison,' added Secretary General Noble.

A co-operation agreement with the International Commission on Missing Persons was approved unanimously at the 2007 INTERPOL General Assembly, enabling the organizations to exchange experience, expertise and information.

The first INTERPOL IRT was deployed in October 2002 to Indonesia following a terrorist bombing in Bali. To date, some 40 teams have been deployed to 27 different countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia and Europe, including for the 2004 Asian tsunami.