Identification of plane crash victims commences

04 Dec 2013 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 04 DEC (NAMPA) - Teams of scientists from various countries are in Namibia to help identify the remains of the victims of the plane crash which occurred at the Bwabwata National Park in the Kavango East Region on Friday.
The crash involving Mozambique Airlines Flight TM470 resulted in the deaths of all 33 people on board, including 10 Mozambicans, nine Angolans, five Portuguese, one French, one Brazilian and one Chinese national.
The investigation process, which started on Tuesday, essentially consists of two phases, which are the investigation and reconstruction of the crash, as well as the identification of the victims’ mortal remains.
The Deputy Inspector-General of the Namibian Police Force (NamPol), James Tjivikua told a packed media briefing in the capital on Wednesday that the identification of the crash victims’ remains has commenced.
He explained that the identification process will focus mainly on gathering the ante-mortem data of the missing persons, whilst the post-mortem data collection and analysis will be aimed at matching the validated results in order to identify all the remains beyond doubt, and repatriate the said remains and personal effects of the deceased to their home countries.
“Given the fact that the victims are nationals of different countries, this investigation is therefore jointly carried out in conjunction with delegated teams of specialists from the respective countries,” he stated.
Considering the extensive damage to the aircraft and its devastating effect on the bodies of the deceased as well as the massive trauma the mourners continue to endure as a result of the aircraft crash, Tjivikua indicated that the remains of the deceased cannot be subjected to visual identification.
“In order to achieve the stated objectives of the disaster victim identification in the shortest possible time, the government of Namibia has requested the International Criminal Police Organisation (Interpol) to assist in the coordination of the multi-national efforts,” he noted.
He then urged the crash victims’ family members to comply with requests lodged in their respective countries by mandated agencies to provide all relevant data and samples that will assist in the identification of the mortal remains.
“Comprehensive and timely compliance with the said requests is crucial to ensure that the identification process is accomplished on time,” he said, adding that further delays in the provision of the requested information may derail the identification process.
He also appealed to family members and loved ones to continue exercising patience during the investigation process.
“NamPol also undertakes to keep the family members of the victims informed on the progress made until the process is completed,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the Head of the National Forensic Scientific Institute, Paul Ludik indicated that the process could take weeks.
He said data is being collected from the victims’ countries of origin, adding that scientists will need DNA samples from the family members of the victims for proper identification of the mortal remains.
“Fingerprints and dental genetic records will also assist in the reconciliation of the identity of the remains,” he explained.
Meanwhile, Tjivikua said Government has prioritised the tragedy and will spare no effort or costs to conclude the investigation process in the shortest possible time-frame while observing international best practices.