Friday, 25 March 2016

Relatives' agonising wait to identify Brussels dead

Forensic experts were on Thursday still going through the grisly and complex process of identifying victims of the Brussels bomb attacks, as families of those missing endured an agonising wait, their hopes fading by the hour.

As friends and relatives anxiously sought news from the increasingly desperate search, Belgian police experts were going through the painstaking work required to confirm the fatalities.

Tuesday's attacks at Brussels airport and at a metro station in the Belgian capital killed 31 people and injured another 300, 61 of whom were in critical condition.

Identification is proving slow, complicated by the violence of the explosions and because many of the victims were foreigners, police told RTBF television.

Around 40 nationalities are thought to be among the dead and wounded.

Their diverse backgrounds reflect the cosmopolitan nature of Brussels, Europe's symbolic capital.

"We have lost contact with Frank Deng. We've checked with his hotel in Brussels. He left at 7:16am, and went to the airport where his flight was at 9:05am," David Ye, a close friend, told AFP.

Jewellery, teeth and DNA

The first port of call for worried friends and relatives is the 1771 emergency number set up by the Belgian authorities.

Upon phoning they are told whether their loved ones are on a list of the injured. If not they are directed towards the Reine-Astrid military hospital, where a team of doctors, police officers and Red Cross staff has been specially put together to liaise with them.

Some 30 specialists, including the seven permanent Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team experts, are working to identify the bodies or remains of victims recovered from the attack scenes.

"They collect all the items they can: jewellery, wallets, clothes, human remains," said Belgian police spokesman Michael Jonnois.

"They will compare these post-mortem items with ante-mortem information: how tall the person was, their weight, hair, et cetera.

"In extreme cases, we can resort to DNA samples. We can identify them from their teeth, genetic code or fingerprint."

He added: "We want to have 100 percent certainty. We cannot allow ourselves to have the slightest doubt."

Desperate search

A Facebook page where worried relatives, friends and colleagues can post notices of the missing has been set up. Pictures already uploaded show men and women, young and old, from Belgium and across the globe.

They have been shared thousands of times as people try to spread the word in the hope of finding out what happened to their loved ones.

"HAVE YOU SEEN THIS GIRL? Her name is ALINE BASTIN, Belgian, 29 years old. She was most probably on the metro," read one.

"We are DESPERATELY looking for her -- should you have any news, PLEASE give a sign!"

Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa announced Thursday that Jimmy Montenegro, 37, from the northern city of Ibarra, was in a "very serious" condition after being caught in the metro blast.

"The wound is in the brain and the situation is critical," Montenegro's brother Marcelo Trujillo told AFP. The victim's wife said a piece of metal had hit the right side of his brain.

New York siblings Sascha and Alexander Pinczowski were at the airport. A Dutch newspaper said they were on the telephone to a relative when the bombs went off and the line went dead.

There has been no news of them since.

David Dixon, 51, a British computer programmer who lived in Brussels, texted his aunt after the airport blasts to say he was safe, but there are fears he was caught up in the metro attack.

"We are anxiously waiting for more information about our dear David," his family said in a statement.

"We continue to hope for good news."

Three confirmed fatalities

So far, just three of the fatalities have been named.

Adelma Marina Tapia Ruiz, a 37-year-old Peruvian woman who lived in Belgium, was killed in the airport blasts, the foreign ministry in Lima confirmed.

Another victim was Belgian civil servant Olivier Delespesse, according to his employer.

He was killed in the metro attack, local media reported, along with 20-year-old Belgian law student Leopold Hecht, who was named by his university.

Hecht's family has decided to donate his organs.

"We know it's the decision he would have wanted us to take," they told La Libre Belgique newspaper.

"We hope that giving his organs will save a life or help someone else."

With explosions like the ones we witnessed on Monday, the situation is very different than an airplane crash, where you more or less know the number of victims and their identities. The goal in that situation is to find and confirm the identities of the remains.

With explosions, there are many pieces of the puzzle that have to be pieced together, including the number of people in the vicinity of the explosions, their current whereabouts and whether they potentially match the deceased.

As things stand now, families are being told it could take up to three weeks before we hear more conclusive information about identification. To complicate matters further, while the cause of death will likely be attributed to the explosions, investigators still need to provide a more precise manner of death, such as blunt organ injury, shrapnel or smoke inhalation.

Three waves of injury in a bombing

Part of the difficulty is that when a bomb explodes, there are three waves of injury.

First, there is a primary blast -- a concussive wave, really -- that compresses everything around it. The most common fatal injury is called a blast lung, because the lungs, which are essentially large air sacs, are so rapidly compressed by this primary blast that the result is sudden death.

Second comes the debris -- shrapnel and bomb fragments -- causing devastating penetrating injuries.

Third are the bodies themselves, which are catapulted through the air and into or on top of other victims.

Identification is proving especially difficult because many of the bodies are not intact, Red Cross Belgium spokeswoman An Luyten told CNN. Those individual parts need to be identified and then "reassociated" with the rest of the body, according to Victor Weedn, chairman of the Department of Forensic Sciences at Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. Authorities may not release the bodies to the families until all of the remains have been positively identified, he said.

The types of injuries on the Brussels bombings are rarely seen outside of combat. Belgian Health Minister Maggie De Block has described the scene as a war zone.

Hospitals facing war injuries after Brussels attacks

"All our patients are now in 25 different hospitals because they have such severe injuries and surgeons tell me that they are like war injuries," De Block told CNN's Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday, listing serious burns and amputations among the injuries.

Back in October 2005, Brussels Airport opened a "full-service" morgue to facilitate transportation of the deceased. At the time, it was only the second of its kind in Europe. Now, it's serving on a scale no one anticipated. A disaster victim identification team, which is a division of the police, has been brought in and are working to identify the bodies at the airport, the Red Cross' Luyten told CNN.

'What color were their eyes?'

The Red Cross provides psychological support during the process while police ask basic questions to the family such as, "What was your loved one wearing?" and "What color were their eyes?" Luyten told CNN. Authorities also ask for dental records as part of the process of identifying the deceased after large explosions.

"It's a terrible scene to work, but ... mass disasters happen -- plane crashes, terrorist activities -- and we have highly specialized, trained individuals," CNN contributor Larry Kobilinsky told CNN's Ashleigh Banfield on "Legal View" on Thursday.

"They're part of mortuary teams, and they are primarily pathologists, with other kinds of scientists, DNA experts, odontologists (dentists). And the idea is to collect every part.

"You've got to document everything, sketch it, photograph it, but certainly collect every single body part. If the body is more or less intact, you could try to identify by height, weight, gender, hair color, eye color, dental records, fingerprints."

"On top of this, you need to create a DNA database of close relatives or samples that we know come from these individuals," said Kobilinsky, a forensic scientist and professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. "Ultimately, next of kin is going to want to bury their loved ones. So we need to get everything together, kind of like a puzzle, putting the pieces together, so that ... these people can be laid to rest."

And sometimes the puzzle remains incomplete. Eight years after the Oklahoma city bombing, a woman was discovered to have been buried with another victim's leg.

Just 60% of those who died in the World Trade Center on 9/11 were ever officially identified. More than a decade after Hurricane Katrina hit, the city of New Orleans still has 31 unidentified remains.

While we don't yet know the identities of the deceased, we do know they are composed of at least 40 nationalities. The responsibility to notify next of kin typically falls to the ministries of foreign affairs or victims' respective country's embassy.

The painstaking process of identifying the victims will continue for weeks and months, with little rest for investigators.

None of it, of course, will bring back the dead or provide more solace for the living. The goal for these experts is to provide some measure of closure to the victims' families.

Friday 25 March 2016

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Monday, 21 March 2016

Central Sulawesi DVI Team Identifies Chopper Crash Victims

Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) Team of Central Sulawesi Police is currently identifying the 13 bodies of the National Armed Force (TNI) members who are the victims of the helicopter crash at Kasiguncu Village, Poso Pesisir Sub-district, Poso District, Sunday, March 20, 2016.

Once the identification finished, the bodies will be laid down at 132 Tadulako Military Regional Command before being sent to their respective hometowns.

Meanwhile, the national flag has been flown at half-mast at 132 Tadulako Military Regional Command.

An Indonesian Army helicopter crashed in Poso regency, Central Sulawesi, at 6:20 p.m. local time on Sunday. Thirteen passengers and crew members reportedly lost their lives in the incident, which occurred in the village of Pattiro Bajo, Poso Pesisir Selatan district.

Sr. Comr. Ronny Suseno confirmed the incident. Ronny said the Bell 412 EP helicopter had flown from Watutau village in Lore Piore district, Poso regency, to Kasiguncu Airport in Poso, where a joint police-military team was pursuing members of the East Indonesia Mujahiddin (MIT) terrorist group led by Indonesia’s most wanted fugitive Santoso aka Abu Wardah.“The location of the helicopter crash is only around 1 to 1.5 kilometers from Kasiguncu Airport, Poso,” said Ronny.

He added that weather conditions in Poso had been bad and suspected the helicopter had been struck by lightning.

Indonesian Military and National Police personnel were deployed to the crash site and 13 ambulances readied to bring the bodies of the victims to the Bhayangkara Police hospital in Palu, Central Sulawesi.

The 13 bodies arrived at Bhayangkara Hospital Palu on Monday, March 21, around 4.45 am Central Indonesia Time.

The TNI chopper piloted by Capt. CPN Agung were flying above Napu towards Poso after taking-off from Watutu Village. Around 5.45 pm Central Indonesia Time, the chopper crashed only a couple of minutes from landing at Kasiguncu Airport.

The TNI Headquarters said that the helicopter crashed due to severe weather, however, TNI had not made further investigation.

The chopper carried seven passengers and six crew members.

Monday 21 March 2015

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Great East Japan Earthquake: Hunt for missing disaster victims still confounds rescuers

Five years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, police in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures are still searching for and identifying the bodies of those who went missing on March 11, 2011, though as time goes on they have fewer clues to work with.

The huge earthquake and ensuing tsunami caused massive damage across a broad swath of the Tohoku region. It left a total of 15,894 people dead, while 2,562 people remain unaccounted for as of Feb. 10, including 1,124 in Iwate, 1,237 in Miyagi and 197 in Fukushima, according to the National Police Agency.

Authorities in the three prefectures say they had recovered the bodies of 4,672 in Iwate, 9,539 in Miyagi and 1,613 in Fukushima by the end of January. The figures exclude the number of headless bodies, remains with only parts of the body recovered, as well as victims of aftershocks from the March 11 quake.

Of those recovered, police have matched names with all of the bodies recovered in Fukushima, 4,613 of those in Iwate and 9,523 in Miyagi.

But the challenge of identifying victims has grown over time. This year, police have managed to identify just 10 people. The low figure could be attributed to several factors, including relatives not reporting their kin as missing as well as a lack of DNA samples to match with bodies, since many victims’ homes were washed away in the tsunami.

In Fukushima Prefecture, a number of areas are still designated as no-go zones due to high radiation levels caused by the reactor meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In these areas, police have found many businesses reluctant to aid in search activities, which often require the use of heavy machinery.

There are also many family members who argue the authorities have yet to exhaust all options in their search.

A man in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, whose eldest son is still listed as missing, submitted a request to the city office earlier this month calling for another investigation into places where searches were already conducted.

Despite these difficulties, police say they will continue working to identify remains.

In January, Fukushima police managed to ID the 1,613th victim, a carpenter in his 60s, based on records of artificial teeth. His body was recovered on March 14, 2011, but it took until January of this year to identify it as that of the carpenter, who had lived in the city of Iwaki.

After interviewing local dental technicians, police concluded that, due to their shape and color, it was highly likely that the carpenter’s artificial teeth matched the dental records.

Police also obtained an X-ray from a hospital the man visited, which provided conclusive evidence. It showed “a feature on the backbone typical of those who regularly carry heavy objects over long periods of time.”

Miyagi Prefectural Police set up a task force in November 2011 dedicated to researching and investigating unidentified and missing individuals. The officers from the task force have since taken various unorthodox approaches to their mission, including zooming in on pictures of remains and looking for moles or signs of surgery that might have been overlooked in an autopsy.

In the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, a photo found near a male body was even helpful in identifying that man. Fingerprints found on the photo and that of the individual matched, and police went on to determine which photo-developing machine was used to print it, based on a code found on its back side. After going from that photo studio to another equipped with the same machine, police officers found the studio that actually developed the photo, which led to the identification of the 43-year-old man.

“Methods leading to identification are different in each case,” an officer with the task force said. “We are determined to make continuous efforts to find clues step by step.”

In addition to checking DNA samples and dental charts against the remains, Iwate Prefectural Police have released facial sketches of those who are still unidentified and held consultation events at temporary housing facilities.

Five years since the disaster, police in the coastal areas — who play a central role in search efforts — are renewing their pledge to recover the remains and return them to families in a bid to help bring closure to those still suffering.

Tomonori Hirobata, a 29-year-old senior officer at the Kahoku Police Station in coastal Ishinomaki, has taken part in the more than 1,000 searches since the disasters, when he was dispatched from the Naruko Police Station, in the inland city of Osaki.

Hirobata said he has had many exchanges with the locals at the police station and sometimes receives words of appreciation from them.

“There are still so many missing individuals who should be returned to their families, but my efforts are not enough,” Hirobata said apologetically.

Hirobata said he has seen many families of the missing and dead shed tears over the loss of their relatives, which has renewed his determination to help bring them closure.

“Who else would conduct the search but us?” he asked.

21 March 2015

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Two bodies recovered, nine still missing after Chitral avalanche

Rescuers on Sunday found the bodies of two schoolchildren hit by an avalanche in the mountainous northwest, while nine more remain buried beneath the snow.

The disaster struck on Saturday afternoon near the village of Susom, some 40 kilometres north of the town of Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), local police station chief Sultan Baig said.

Worried parents and authorities began searching for the ninth graders when they did not return from school. “The chances of finding any survivors are very low,” said local deputy mayor Mohammad Ali. “But you never know, people have been found alive buried under snow for nearly 20 hours.”

Meanwhile, Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA) spokesperson announced the demise of at least eight students while claiming to have recovered two bodies. The casualties include Rehmat Bai, Imran Uddin, Faiz Ali, Ali Shan, Imran Khan, Elahi, Irshad Murad and Mubashir.

“So far two bodies have been recovered and due to the terrain and topography heavy machinery could not make their way to the area people are using local available equipment to recover the bodies,” the PDMA spokesperson said.

Talking to APP, an official of Police Control Chitral Fazaluddin said that soon after the incident, the Pakistan Army troops and Scouts rushed to the site in Susoom village of Karimabad. He said that of two bodies recovered so far, one is of a student and the other of a passerby. The recovered bodies were identified as Mubashir S/O Nouroz, resident of Susoom and Rehmat S/O Adina, also from Susoom village in Karimabad.

The official said that the rescue operation was halted due to bad weather and heavy rain. Due to the fear of another avalanche, the operation was stopped, he said.

Heavy rains have killed at least 79 people, injured 101 others and damaged 240 houses since March 9 across the country, according to the National Disaster Management Authority. It said landslides and collapsed roofs caused most of the fatalities.

Monday 21 March 2015

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Sunday, 20 March 2016

Flydubai plane crash

Flydubai said on Saturday that it will organise a "programme of hardship payments" of $20,000 to each victims' families to address their immediate financial needs.

The Dubai airliner with 62 people on board nosedived and exploded in a giant fireball early on Saturday while trying to land in strong winds in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, killing all aboard, officials said.

"At present, our priority is to identify and contact the families of those lost in today’s tragic accident and provide immediate support to those affected. flydubai will additionally organise a programme of hardship payments to the families amounting to $20,000 per passenger, in accordance with our Conditions of Carriage, with the aim of addressing immediate financial needs," a flydubai spokesperson said.

Flydubai to confirm passengers' names

Flydubai will release the names of those on board fatal flight FZ981 after it has contacted the families of the 62 passengers and crew members on board, the airline said late on Saturday.

In an emailed statement, the airline said: “Our priority is the extension of all possible care and respect to the families of the passengers and crew of flight FZ981.”

“We are currently in the process of contacting all families that have lost loved ones as a result of this tragic accident. It is a process that will take a little time but as a mark of respect to the families of the bereaved, we want to make every effort to inform them directly prior to releasing the full passenger manifest.”

A list of names of all 55 passengers on board, including 4 children, was released on Saturday morning by Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry. Flydubai has said the passengers were 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians and 1 Uzbekistani. A full list of names and some nationalities of crew members was also released by the ministry.

The Russian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates, flydubai and the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) later confirmed the nationalities of crew members, including pilots. They were 2 Spaniards and one each from Russia, Columbia, Cyprus and Kyrgyzstan.

Flight recorders recovered

The flight data recorder and cockpit data recorder from the flydubai plane that crashed on Saturday have been recovered by the local accident investigation team at the crash site in Russia, Flydubai confirmed in a Facebook post.

Russia's Emergencies Ministry said most of the passengers were Russians, and seven crew members of various nationalities. Flydubai confirmed that there were no survivors and said four children were among those killed.

The powerful explosion pulverised the plane but investigators quickly recovered both flight recorders. The cause of the crash wasn't immediately known, but officials and experts pointed at a sudden gust of wind as a possible reason. Related story: Flydubai sees first tragedy

"Our primary concern is for the families of the passengers and crew who were on board. Everyone at flydubai is in deep shock and our hearts go out to the families and friends of those involved," said CEO Gaith Al Gaith. The airline said it was in the process of contacting all families of the victims. Related story: Russian consulate in UAE to fast-track visa, consular services to family of victims

No distress call made

Al Gaith said that the pilots, who were from Cyprus and Spain, hadn't issued any distress signal before the crash. They had 5,965 and 5,769 hours of flying time respectively, making them "quite experienced," Al Gaith added. The cabin crew included two Russians and citizens of Seychelles, Colombia and Kyrgyzstan.

“I can confirm a far as I can see there was no distress call,” Al Ghaith said at a press conference in Dubai on Saturday.

The aircraft, a five year old Boeing 737-800, went through a heavy maintenance check just two months ago, Al Ghaith also said. The flight departed Dubai International at 12:20am on Saturday. The accident occured at 4:50am Dubai time.

There were 55 passengers and 7 crew members on board. The nationalities of the passengers have been confirmed as 44 Russians, 8 Ukrainians, 2 Indians and 1 Uzbekistani. Of the passengers 33 were women, 18 were men and 4 were children.

The United Arab Emirates’ General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) said there were 2 female and 5 male crew members. Their nationalities were 1 Cypriot, 2 Spaniard, 1 Russian, 1 Seychellois, and 1 Columbian and 1 Kyrgyzstani. It is understood the pilots were Cypriot and Spanish.

The GCAA has sent a four-person team to Moscow who will then travel onwards to Rostov-on-Don to assist Russian authorities in the investigation into the incident, GCAA assistant director general for air accident investigation Ismail Al Hosani said.

Flydubai has sent an emergency response team directly to the site, Al Ghaith said. The flydubai chief declined to comment on what might have caused the accident, telling reporters it was too early to speculate.

“We cannot judge right now what has happened until our team get the full information about the incident,” he said. Al Hosani said the GCAA isn’t ruling anything out.

Strong winds eyed as cause of crash

Rostov regional Governor Vasily Golubev said that "by all appearances, the cause of the air crash was the strongly gusting wind, approaching a hurricane level."

According to the weather data reported by Russian state television, winds at ground level weren't dangerously strong at the moment of the crash, but at an altitude of 500 metres (1,640 feet) and higher they reached a near-hurricane speed of around 30 meters per second (67 miles per hour).

Ian Petchenik, a spokesman for the flight-tracking website Flightradar24, told The Associated Press that the plane missed its approach then entered a holding pattern.

According to Flightradar24, the plane circled for about two hours before making another landing attempt. It said a Russian Aeroflot plane scheduled to land around the same time made three landing attempts but then diverted to another airport.

According to its data, the plane began climbing again after a go-around when it suddenly started to fall with vertical speed of up to 6,400 metres per minute (21,000 feet/min).

The closed-circuit TV footage showed the plane going down in a steep angle and exploding.

Al Gaith said the plane attempted to land in line with established procedures.

"As far as we know the airport was open and we were good to operate," he said, adding that they couldn't have landed without air traffic controllers' permission.

Al Gaith said the pilots hadn't issued any distress call and hadn't attempted to divert to an alternate airport.

"It was an uncontrollable fall," said Sergei Kruglikov, a veteran Russian pilot, said on Russian state television. He said that a sudden change in wind speed and direction could have caused the wings to abruptly lose their lifting power.

He said that the pilots would have understood seconds before the crash that they were going to die, but "passengers and the cabin crew likely didn't realise they were facing imminent death."

Pilot Vitaly Sokolovsky told Rossiya 24 television that a sudden gust of wind could be particularly dangerous at low altitude while the plane was flying slowly at low power and the pilot was throttling up the engines to make another run.

President Vladimir Putin offered his condolences to the victims' families and top Russian Cabinet officials flew to the crash site to oversee the investigation.

In a statement expressing "shock and grief," Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades confirmed that the pilot was a Cypriot national, Aristos Socratous from Limassol.

Officials said the plane and bodies of the victims were torn into small pieces by the powerful blast, making identification difficult. Investigators said they were working on the plane's cockpit conversation recorder and another one recording parameters of the flight.

The pilots on board have flown a combined 10,000 hours. They were experienced pilots. There were 2 Russian crew members on board.

One of the two flight data recorders was found at the crash site, and the search for the second one is ongoing, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Of the seven crew members, one was from Cyprus, two from Spain, one Colombian, one Seychelles and one from Kyrgyz Republic, said Alexander Efimov. Russian ambassador to the UAE. It was earlier reported that one of the crew member was Russian.

Boeing ready to provide assistance

US plane maker Boeing says it is ready to provide assistance to the investigation into the fatal flydubai crash in Russia.

“Boeing’s thoughts and prayers are with those on board flydubai flight FZ981 and their families and friends. Boeing stands ready to provide technical assistance upon the request of government agencies conducting the investigation,” Boeing said in a statement on its website.

Sunday 20 March 2015

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Monday, 14 March 2016

Orakzai mine collapse toll rises to 10

More than 30 miners were trapped in the mountainous Orakzai tribal region after a shaft collapsed amid heavy downpours on Saturday, according to the political administration of the district.

Governor Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in a statement has termed the mine explosion a ‘natural disaster’.

The surviving labourers have said that the digging in the coalmine has been illegal.

On Sunday emergency responders were struggling to rescue two missing miners, with officials saying it was unclear whether they were still alive.

A military statement issued late Saturday said more than 100 troops from the army and paramilitary Frontier Corps were helping to operate heavy machinery at the site and providing medical support.

“Apparently torrential rains were the main cause of the collapse but usually the management of such coal mines do not care about safety standards,” the political agent of Orakzai region Zubair Khan said.

The mines in Pakistan are notorious for poor safety standards and bad ventilation.

At least 43 workers were killed in March 2011 when explosions triggered a collapse in a coal mine in southwestern Baluchistan province, which is rich in gas, oil and mineral deposits.

Monday 14 March 2015

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Best way to identify a missing person? It’s all in the soles of your feet

Efforts to identify bodies of victims of natural disasters or people with dementia who are under protective custody using the soles of the feet are underway in Japan as the system is expected to help speed up the identification process once it comes into effect.

The move is led by former members of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), who argue that skin ridge patterns of feet because they remain intact for one’s lifetime can serve like fingerprints since they are unique among individuals.

Akira Mitsuzane, 68, former head of the MPD’s first investigation division that handles crimes including murders and robberies, and Hideo Kaneko, 69, a former member of the MPD’s crime scene investigation division, came upon the idea of using feet ridge patterns after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in March 2011.

They witnessed multiple cases in which family members of victims had the wrong bodies identified as police, who tried to return victims’ bodies to their families as quickly as possible, misidentified the bodies as they relied on victims’ clothing and other body traits for the identification.

“It takes time and money to conduct DNA analysis and you can’t always obtain fingerprints. For the purpose of identification (of bodies) alone, ridge patterns of feet have some more suitable characters,” said Kaneko.

Ridge patterns are usually taken from an area right under toes and they are preserved in many cases since the skin is thicker and the area protected by shoes, even though other parts of the body might be damaged in disasters.

It takes time and money to conduct DNA analysis and you can’t always obtain fingerprints. Mitsuzane believes people are more inclined to register their feet ridge patterns as opposed to fingerprints due to privacy concerns and the risk of the unintended use of information.

It is necessary to preregister and store one’s ridge pattern information to run the identification system, but collecting data only requires placing a foot on a scanner.

Asked by Mitsuzane and others, a major electric appliance maker has developed a portable scanner prototype, which weighs around 20 kilograms, and is capable of instantly scanning and storing data.

The fact that many demented elderly are under protective custody but unable to be identified is a serious issue as well.

According to the 2014 statistics by the MPD, the number of reported missing seniors who are believed to suffer from dementia is 10,783 in Japan. Also, 75 victims of the March 2011 disaster still remain unidentified as of the end of February 2016.

“The use of foot ridge patterns can be an effective preparation for the future,” said Mitsuzane, adding that some 20,000 and over 300,000 victims would be expected in the event of a possible Tokyo inland earthquake and the Nankai Trough earthquake, respectively.

“The fact that many demented elderly are under protective custody but unable to be identified is a serious issue as well,” Mitsuzane said.

Monday 14 March 2016

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