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Paper Topic:

Mass Disaster Victim Identification





Mass Disaster Victim Identification

The earth had been a receiver of torrents of man-made and natural disasters over its ' course of history ? floods , hurricanes , bombings aircraft accidents , earthquakes , typhoons , tsunamis , etc . The disastrous turn of events eventually leads to death , not only of a small number of people but rather , a large group of victims . A struggle for normalcy follows these disasters hence , there is a need to recover and identify the dead so that at the very least , the families of the victims are

br allowed the grief that is due for them

Forensics plays a domineering role during this disaster identification en masse . The science of forensics seeks to identify the victim and determine the time and place of death , and cause and manner of death Forensic identification techniques , also known as biometrics , such as dental , fingerprint , and DNA analysis are effective because they can and are known to identify decomposed or damaged bodies

December 26 , 2004 , a 9 .0 Richter magnitude quake hit at north west of the Indonesia 's Sumatra Island with a series of after shock waves creating one of the worst natural catastrophe to hit the Earth . The tidal waves covered six provinces in the west coast of Southern Thailand and the waves killed more than 270 , 000 people across the Indian Ocean in twelve different countries

Early periods of disaster Tsunami Victim Identification (TVI ) was managed by the Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation , Royal Thai Police and Ministry of Public Health which had later been turned over to

Health , which had later been turned over to TVI Excecutive Committee chaired by the Ministry Interior . Post mortem DNA data analysis were performed via specimen collection from buccal , hair , tooth , muscle and femur during the first few days

Indian Ocean Tsunami Victims were identified by Interpol and Saravejo (who recently worked on the identification of war victims in Bosnia Rather than taking DNA samples from the flesh , the Saravejo laboratories extracts tissues from the bone , a more difficult task since bones are calcified . The samples are then transported to Phuket where they are matched to the DNA samples from the toothbrushes of the victims or the blood of their closest relative . The cases are then analyzed then another panel signs of the Thai police signs the identification (Hsien DNA Identification of Indian Ocean Victims

Plass Data developed the Danish Software or DVI software which assists in identification of bodies of victims of Asian catastrophes . The victims ' characteristics , physiological or morphological are inputted to the software as well as distinctive features like the set of teeth and DNA analysis . The software is currently marketed in European law enforcement agencies but the software was given free to centers that devote themselves to the identification of dead bodies during the tsunami catastrophe , Danish Software help Identification of Deadly Bodies

Disaster Victim Identification or DVI involves four main steps (1 tagging and bagging the body (2 ) finger printing (2 ) forensic pathology and (4 ) forensic dentistry . Pre-and post refrigeration were implemented before identification procedures . Bodies were then labeled and bagged Post mortem skin desquamation (also known as peeling ) due to decomposition makes the technique fingerprinting inapplicable . Bodily examination involves four different experts from four different fields of study ? forensic pathologist , forensic death investigator , mortuary technician and a photographer . Bodies from the mortuary are tagged by the scribe and the pathologist using pink PM DVI form and were subsequently photographed . The technicians wash the clothes and collect any items of import an d seal them as one of the clues for identification . An internal and external examination was performed taking note of disease presence . Separation of mandibles or teeth for the forensic dental examination was also executed

Examination of teeth structures consist of two teams dental examination and dental radiology . Odontologists carried ou the facial bilateral dissection to study the maxilla and mandible . Using World Dental Federation Tooth Numbering , results were jutted down on pink DVI form Interpol charting system . Victims who have root canal treatment were sepatarated for During the dental examination , teeth that might have received root canal treatment were separated for further radiographic investigation . For DNA profiling teeth samples with large pulp were selected but in the absence of teeth , femur shaft or rib can be an alternative . Bitewing radiographs were taken and labeled

The advantage of dental examination is that the teeth are the hardest and the most resilient structure of the human body hence they are very resistant to decomposition . Also , different people have different teeth jobs (e .g . gold inlay , crown , bridge work and dental implants . Dentition is also different for every individual even in identical twins . Dental examination makes use of missing teeth , caries fillings and prostheses , any other disease , or any pathologic lesion and dental material to identify the victims . Unusual dental features can also identify the victim . Positive identification depends on the accuracy and completeness of dental records (Balwant and Anand . Role of Forensic Odontology in Tsunami Disasters

The famed deoxyribonucleic acid , commonly known as DNA , is the basic unit of the body which codes for all heritable traits . Every person have different DNA sequences , even identical twins have differences in their genomes . Every part of the body can actually become samples of DNA given that they are fresh . However , there are some parts of the body which are more recommended because they are more stable for transportation than the rest . DNA can be used to identify bodies in that there is a data which can be used for comparison and verification of the victim 's identity . Electrophoretic methods and DNA amplification makes this method very accurate . The sampling part of DNA analysis is very sensitive though . Humidity and high temperature in the tropical regions speed up the decaying process of corpse or the dead bodies makes sampling much difficult . To resolve this , mtDNA is extracted

In the much degraded bodies , mtDNA or mitochondrial DNA analysis combined with STR analysis can still be performed , World Trade Center Disaster Identification . The mtDNA is a directly passed from the mother to the children it can be used to trace the maternal lineage . Also , it is highly robust and stable in compromised samples Hence , in DNA amplification , it is more recommended to use this cell constituent what with the entire transportation factor problem and the degradative character of the corpses (Sorenson Genomics , Disaster Victim Identification Kit

Fingerprinting is also a method of identification of the corpse . It is relatively cheap and the cost of laboratory materials and the amount of time used is very minimal . Fingerprints , like DNA and dental structures vary from person-to-person . Each individuals are differentiated by the patterns of whorls , spirals , and lines etched across the pads of their fingers . Comparative data is comparatively large in this arena Usually legal s and documents are marked by fingerprints hence the data for fingerprints are readily available and more abundant compared to others . The problem with fingerprint analysis is that the localization for actual sample is easily degraded partly because they are more exposed and the cell constituents for this site is more easily degraded compared to others

Mass fatality plans for the after-event of the tsunami were lacking . The identification of the bodies did not proceed in a fast manner . This lagging of victim identification can be attributed to the following reasons (1 ) poor quality of samples (2 ) lack of information from relatives who were presumably victims as well (3 ) relocation of dead bodies due to wave currents and (4 ) destroyed infrastructures that are bearing records brought about by the calamity (United nations Conference , Lack of Information Slows Down Tsunami Victims

The problem herein tackled is whether what method is most effective in the identification of bodies . To answer this , two recent mass disasters are examined that of Flight 111 and the World Trade Center Attack . Of the 645 were identified using DNA 188 , dental records 71 , fingerprints 19 personal effects and 16 , photographs . On the Swiss Air Crash of Flight 111 , of the 229 victims , over 100 were identified using DNA 90 , dental x-rays and 30 , fingerprints and ante-mortem x-rays from post mortem injuries (Jennings and Yi , Applications of Biometrics in Mass Disaster Identification . In both cases , DNA analysis yielded the highest mass victim identification

However , this does not seem to be the case for Tsunami victims . As of April 18 , 2005 , dental examination identified 85 .8 of the victims fingerprint analysis , 12 .6 DNA , 0 .14 and physical examination , 1 .2 (Sribanditmongkol , Forensic Aspect of Disaster Casualty Management Tsunami Victim Identification In Thailand . Identification of children were comparatively difficult because they lack the necessary records like fingerprints or dental records , Three years to ID all victims . Dental identification streaked very high compared with the other methods

The probable reason for this is the sampling problems which are highly associated not only with the weather but also with time . Weather plays a huge factor by catalyzing the degradation of the sampling ' bodies making it more difficult and delimiting the samples to relatively stable structures of the body

As to the cost efficacy of the methods , there are no actual records on the laboratory techniques which had been used during the last tsunami catastrophe . Most of them are from well-funded agencies from other countries and the costs were not publicly announced . However , cost can be estimated at current price range of laboratories : DNA analysis alone can reach at 3000 .00 per sampling . Fingerprinting and matching is less than 80 .00 and the cost of dental examination is estimated around 1000 .00

Among the three biometrics , DNA analysis is relatively expensive although it is widely available in the market today . Its ' precision and accuracy cannot be contended (given the right conditions of sampling Fingerprinting is much easier compared to the two but the localization of samples makes it a highly sensitive method . Dental examination is work-contentious not only does it involve effort on isolating the structures but it involves the use of radiology as well . Among the three , it is the one which follows more hierarchy of methods although one can attest to the results since teeth structures are proven to be stable

These three however , is only effective given the proper data for comparison . Most of the foreigners and the natives who have become victims of the disaster remain un-identified due to this lack of information . Post and ante mortem data were found to be severely lacking for some victims . The primary lesson which can be gleaned from this event is proper documentation so as to facilitate proper and immediate identification of victims of future disasters . The role of forensics and biometrics would be so much easier with this kind of information

Works Cited

Balwant R . and S . C . Anand . Role of Forensic Odontology in Tsunami Disasters . 2007 . Internet Scientific Publications . 22 Nov 2007 br

Danish Software help Identification of Tsunami Victims ' Oresund IT 22 Nov 2007

Disaster Victim Identification Kit '2007 . Sorenson Genomics . 22 Nov 2007

Hsien , L . DNA Identification of Indian Ocean tsunami Victims ' 26 Dec 2005 . B5Media . 22 Nov 2007 br

Jennings , K , and C , Yi , Applications of Biometrics in Mass Disaster Identification ' 2005 . CSE891 Case Study Presentation . 22 Nov 2007 Lack of Information Slows Down Tsunami Victims . UN Conference . 22 Nov 2007 . UN News Center . 22 Nov 2007 br

Lehninger , R . et . al . Biochemistry . NY : Worth Pub , 1988

Three years to ID All Tsunami Victims ' 22 Aug 2005 . The Age Co ,Ltd . 22 Nov 2007 br

Sribanditmongkol ,

. Forensic Aspect of Disaster Casualty Management Tsunami Victim Identification In Thailand ' 2005 . Department of Forensic Medicine Chiang Mai University . 22 Nov 2007 br

World Trade Center Disaster Identification ' 2003 .22 Nov 2007 br








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