Tuesday, 3 September 2013

After 60 years, final attempt to identify 32 unknown victims of the 1953 Big Flood in the Netherlands

(Original article in Dutch) Experts from the police and the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) attempt to identify 32 people who perished 60 years ago during the 1953 Big Flood. Mayor Gerard Rabelink of Schouwen-Duiveland has given permission to dig up 32 corpses so that researchers can collect DNA, Rabelink announced on Tuesday morning. The mayor is the one who must grant permission to the police to exhume remains.

Thirty-two unidentfied bodies are buried on Schouwen- Duiveland who have died during the flood. Anyone who is missing a family member after the Flood can donate his or her DNA sample.

The DNA profile will be entered into the DNA database for missing persons at the Dutch Forensic Institute and checked for potential matches. A spokeswoman for the NFI stressed that the DNA profile will be used solely to identify the bodies.

The 32 unknown dead of the flood are buried in various cemeteries on Schouwen - Duivenland and therefore various excavations take place this month in the villages of Serooskerke, Ouwerkerk and Nieuwerkerk. This is done as respectfully as possible with forensic experts present, says Irma Disk, team leader of the National Missing Persons Bureau of the police. " A forensic archaeologist is present to ensure that remains are exhumed correctly as graves may have shifted and coffins decayed throughout the years. We want them be certain."

The research on the burial takes place in a white tent. The researchers suggest taking a piece of femur and molars to collect DNA. At the NFI, the DNA will be extracted and a DNA profile drawn up which will hopefully lead to a match for each victim. Two or 3 family members from the first line will give the greatest chance of success, "says Disk.

It will probably take months before the first results are known.

Tuesday 3 September 2013



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