Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Foreign, local forensics experts joining NBI team in Tacloban

Foreign and local experts will be joining the forensics team of the National Bureau of Investigation that will be leaving for Tacloban City this week work to identify the bodies of victims in areas devastated by super typhoon “Yolanda.”

Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Wilfredo Tierra, head of the NBI’s medico-legal division, met with forensics experts from the International Red Cross.

The embassy of New Zealand and Interpol have also indicated that they will be joining the 15- to 20-member NBI disaster identification team.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Dr. Raquel Fortun and three other forensic Filipino forensic pathologists have also volunteered to assist with the identification of the bodies.

Reports from Tacloban and other badly hit areas indicate that many bodies remain under debris and even on the streets and many have begun to smell.

In some towns, officials said bodies found along highways had to be buried by the roadside to speed up the clearing of debris and allow the delivery of relief.

De Lima also explained that identifying the dead is important, “para ‘yung mga kaanak na gusto ng maayos-ayos na libing ay magawa ‘yon (so those who want to give them a decent burial can do so) … we have to account for each and everybody … living or dead, kailangan ma-account (they need to be accounted for).”

Five days after Yolanda struck, the experts acknowledged that the task would be difficult and their numbers were few.

They cited the work of identifying victims of the deadly Northern Mindanao flashfloods triggered by storm “Pablo” last year, which is still continuing.

The NBI team will try to work with dental records and, where possible, cadavers’ fingerprints.

However, when this is no longer feasible, they will have to turn to DNA tests, which cost at least P15,000-20,000 each.

A four-man NBI team is already in Tacloban undertaking preparatory work, including finding a place to work, ensuring transportation and determining which areas they will be to undertake an ocular inspection and determine the areas to visit.

The NBI said they would include in their work victims already buried in mass graves, which they will exhume as long as these are contained in individual cadaver bags.

Wednesday 13 November 2013


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