Friday, 4 October 2013

Lebanese delegation to Indonesia starts DNA testing to identify migrant boat victims

The Lebanese delegation tasked with following up on the Australia-bound boat tragedy has started its work on Thursday upon its arrival to Indonesia.

The delegation is in charge of identifying the bodies of the drowned victims, secure their transfer to Lebanon, and deal with the diplomatic procedures necessary to allow the survivors to legally return to Beirut.

"We thank the cabinet of Indonesia for everything it is doing to ease the transfer of the victims' bodies to Lebanon, and for helping in dealing with pending legal matters related to the survivors,” caretaker State Minister Ahmed Karami said.

Lebanese Charge d'Affaires in Indonesia Joanna Qazzi announced that around 42 bodies were retrieved from the sea.

"The bodies belong to 18 men, 5 boys, 14 women and 6 girls,” she detailed, adding that DNA samples taken from the victims' families will be used to identify them.

Qazzi called on the Lebanese migrants, who violated their residency permits in Indonesia, to “benefit from this chance to return to their homeland at the expense of Lebanon's cabinet, who is also going to cover their due fines.”

LBCI television pointed out that the documents of 18 survivors will be ready in the coming hours to allow them to return to Beirut.

Meanwhile, the same source remarked that 6 Lebanese are still detained in an Indonesian prison, after they were arrested before the boat's sailing.

"The Lebanese coroner who traveled to Indonesia with the delegation will head on Friday to the military hospital to start with the DNA testing to identify the bodies,” LBCI added.

Al-Jadeed television, however, noted that reports saying the bodies of the boat's victims will arrive to Lebanon on Monday are just rumors.

"It is impossible to complete this mission by Monday,” it stressed.

Led by Karami, the Lebanese delegation includes International forensic adviser and DNA expert Dr. Fouad Ayoub, High Relief Commission chief Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Bashir, and a number of officials from the Foreign Ministry, a representative of the General Security, and DNA specialists.

The boat, which was estimated to be carrying between 80 and 120 Middle Eastern illegal immigrants, went down on Friday in rough seas off Indonesia's main island of Java. It was headed for Australia's Christmas Island.

Twenty-eight people have escaped alive.

The Lebanese foreign ministry said Sunday there were 68 Lebanese, including children, on board the ill-fated vessel and that 18 survived the ordeal while at least 28 were still missing.

Friday 4 October 2013


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