Cebu City, Philippines – President Gloria Arroyo met with officers from INTERPOL’s Incident Response Team deployed to the Philippines to assist national authorities in the identification of the victims from the June ferry disaster.
President Arroyo thanked the INTERPOL team for helping the families of the victims who died when their ferry capsized in typhoon Frank. The INTERPOL team is based in Cebu City where they are collecting DNA samples from relatives of the estimated 800 victims.
So far 1,000 DNA samples from relatives and 212 DNA samples from victims have been shipped to Sarajevo for analysis by specialists at the International Commission for Missing Persons, which has expertise in large-scale victim identification.
“Once the remaining victims are recovered from the ferry, we can then obtain the DNA samples necessary to continue the matching process,” said Nimal Mahagamage INTERPOL’s team leader in Cebu City.
“There are still weeks of work ahead of us, but clearly as we gather more and more samples from the families and the victims, more matches can be made and faster so that the relatives can have their loved one returned to them as quickly as possible.”
Refrigerated containers have now been installed at the recovery site where the victims’ remains can be properly stored during the identification process once they have been recovered from the ferry. INTERPOL is also shipping a mobile forensic laboratory to Cebu City for the post mortem examinations.