Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Forensic experts from Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia and UAE help identify AirAsia QZ8501 crash victims

The Australian Federal Police has sent five forensic experts to Indonesia in an effort to help identify the bodies of passengers on AirAsia flight QZ8501, authorities said on Tuesday.

Three Australian disaster victim identification officers and two Australian civilian forensic experts arrived in Surabaya, Indonesia's second largest city, Tuesday.

Together, they will join forces with 260 national and international experts in matching remains with fingerprints, dental records and bone DNA to help identify the victims.

The Australian federal government also revealed that it is prepared to provide more specialist officers when and if they are required.

"Australian agencies remain in ongoing direct contact with their Indonesian counterparts to offer support for the Indonesian response to the loss of flight QZ8501," an Australian federal government spokesperson said Tuesday.

"The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has agreed to an Indonesian request to provide a flight recorder specialist when needed." The plane plunged into the Java Sea en route to Singapore on Dec 28, killing all 162 passengers and crew members on board.

A total of 37 bodies have so far been located and are currently in the process of being identified, while the search for the remaining victims, in addition to parts of the aircraft, is ongoing.

Forensic odontology experts join Indonesian DVI team

The University of Gadjah Mada (UGM) has said it will send two forensic odontology experts to help identify the bodies of AirAsia flight QZ8501 victims that are already badly decomposed.

The two experts, Professor Sudibyo and Ahmad Syaify, were scheduled to depart for Surabaya on Tuesday. They will help the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team to identify the bodies of AirAsia victims that can no longer be physically identified using methods such as facial recognition and fingerprints, by examining the victims’ dental impressions.

UGM rector Dwikorita Karnawati said that since the beginning of the recovery effort, Prof. Sudibyo had been involved in identifying the AirAsia victims based on his own initiative and financial resources.

“One of the victims Prof. Sudibyo managed to identify was Hayati Lutfiah Hamid,” Dwikorita said on Monday afternoon.

Hayati was the first AirAsia victim successfully identified by the DVI team, last week.

Dwikorita said identifying human remains via dental examinations was crucial, adding that the bodies of the AirAsia victims had begun to decompose, impeding identification via other means.

“The forensic odontology method will hopefully be helpful in ensuring that all bodies can be immediately identified and returned to their families,” she said.

Prof. Sudibyo said that overall, the AirAsia victims’ bodies had been affected after being submerged in water for days and being damaged by ocean scavengers.

“To identify the bodies, the DVI team had to jump directly to the postmortem identification stage because [the victims’] faces were already damaged,” he said.

The expert said forensic odontology was the proper method to identify damaged human remains because dental components would remain relatively complete regardless of the condition of bodies.

Forensic odontology was a method applied to identify victims of a Garuda Indonesia airplane crash in Yogyakarta in 2007. Most of the bodies were difficult to identify due to burns. Sudibyo was then head of the forensic odontology team dispatched by Sardjito Hospital, Yogyakarta, to identify the victims.

Korea, UAE help identify bodies of AirAsia victims

Forensic experts from South Korea and the United Arab Emirates have joined other international experts, including from Australia and Singapore, in helping to identify victims of AirAsia flight QZ8501, which crashed into Karimata Strait waters while en route from Surabaya to Singapore on Dec.28.

“Five forensic and identification experts from the UAE and a DNA expert from South Korea have been working with 229 other experts to identify the victims’ bodies since 9 a.m. today,” the National Police’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) director Sr.Comr.Anton Casilani told journalists at the DVI post at the East Java Police headquarters in Surabaya, Tuesday.

He said an identification team from Malaysia was also expected to arrive in Surabaya on Wednesday.

Ten Singaporean experts and 14 Australian experts have also been dispatched to assist in the identification process.

“The joint identification team comprising experts from several countries will be divided into two groups. The first group consists of experts responsible for postmortem identification tasks. The second group comprises experts assigned to reconcile or integrate antemortem and postmortem data. Several DNA experts are also part of the second group,” said Anton.

He further explained that to date, the DVI team had collected DNA samples of 162 passengers and crew members on board the flight, 36 of which still needed to be reviewed further. To that end, the team was collecting DNA samples from the families of the victims.

“Up till now, the DVI team has recovered the bodies of 37 AirAsia victims, of which 13 have been identified and handed over to their families,” said Anton.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs Minister Indroyono Soesilo said Indonesia had mobilized its sophisticated technologies, including a remote operated vehicle (ROV), to search for the crucial black box flight recorders from the missing aircraft.

“The ROV will carry out a search operation that will reach the bottom of the sea because it would be difficult for divers to carry out underwater search operations on account of the mud at the bottom of the [Karimata Strait] waters,” he said in Surabaya on Monday.

Indroyono said the underwater search operation would be assisted by a pinger locater on research vessel KR Baruna Jaya I belonging to the Assessment and Application of Technology Agency BPPT), which has been working with the National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarnas) over the last several days.

“Baruna Jaya I is equipped with technologically advanced equipment, such as a pinger locator and magnetometer to detect signals transmitted from the black box,” said Indroyono.

Tuesday 6 January 2015





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