Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Mahbubnagar bus fire: APFSL runs out of DNA kits

After dealing with identification of the Mahbubnagar bus inferno victims, the AP Forensic Science Laboratories (APFSL) has run out of DNA kits to tackle any immediate eventuality. Realising this, the government has permitted the APFSL to procure 10 new DNA kits at a cost of Rs 40 lakhs.

According to APFSL officials, till now 34 bodies have been identified and eight more are to be identified.

"Considering the gravity of the situation, we have invested all available resources and completed DNA profiling of 34 passengers who died in the mishap. In the remaining eight cases, DNA profiling of six bodies will be completed by Wednesday evening, while in the other two cases, the family members concerned are yet to give their blood samples,'' APFSL in-charge director Sharada told TOI.

Though 45 persons, including a baby, died aboard the bus on the fateful day, three victims were identified at the scene of accident and the remaining 42 bodies were preserved since a decision was taken to conduct DNA profiling before the remains were to be handed over to the families concerned.

"In the case of two bodies, blood samples of kin are yet to be collected. In one case, we wanted the victim's daughter and husband to come to the lab so that the daughter's DNA profiling can be matched with her mother and her father. In the other case, we want the parents to come instead of the victim's siblings,'' officials said

As of now, the APFSL has six DNA kits. With the identification process of 34 bodies completed, the officials were confident that they could manage to profile the remaining eight bodies with the available kits. However, they were worried about the future requirements since DNA profiling in criminal cases from across the state land at the APFSL.

The internal parts of the most of the Volvo mishap victims were reduced to ashes and drawing tissues turned out to be a tough task. Generally, in other cases the officials of APFSL take around 20 days to conclude profiling of the victim, but in this case they completed it in just five days.

Meanwhile, forensic officials ruled out existence of firecrackers and other combustible material in the bus at the time of the accident. Sources said that fire was triggered after diesel tank hit a culvert and immediately luggage inside the bus, kept in an exclusive luggage slot near the fuel tank caught fire, and later spread to the entire bus, killing 45 people and injuring seven others.

Wednesday 06 November 2013

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Mass grave in Bosnia 'could be the largest' from 1990s

A group dedicated to finding the bodies of those who've disappeared during armed conflict says a mass grave it's excavating in Bosnia could be the largest from the war there in the 1990s.

The International Commission on Missing Persons says there could be up to 600 people buried at the site.

The Commission's Adam Boys says almost 250 complete bodies and 110 body parts have already been removed from a primary grave at the site, near the village of Tomasica.

The remains discovered so far are yet to be accurately identified.

Mr Boys says the grave forms part of the criminal prosecution against Ratko Mladic, the general in charge of the Bosnian-Serb army during the conflict.

He told Ildi Amon, it is extremely difficult work for those doing the excavations, because the remains are very well-preserved.

Wednesday 06 November 2013

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Israel conducts DNA tests to identify Palestinian fighters

Israel has completed DNA tests to identify the bodies of 36 Palestinian fighters held in Israeli custody, a spokesperson from a campaign to retrieve the bodies said.

Salim Khilla from the Palestinian national campaign to restore martyrs bodies told Ma'an Tuesday that relatives of the fighters traveled to the Tayba crossing in Tulkarem to give DNA samples which Israel will match with the remains of the bodies it holds in custody.

The results will be announced in two to eight weeks, at which point Israel is expected to return the fighters in groups.

In August, the Palestinian Authority refused to receive the remains of Palestinian fighters held by Israel because its request for DNA testing was denied.

Since the 1960s, Israel has withheld the bodies of hundreds of Palestinians, interred in numbered, rather than named, graves in a cemetery in the occupied West Bank's Jordan Valley.

The PA is aware of at least 288 Palestinian bodies being held by Israel, Khilla said, despite Israel claiming it only has 80 bodies.

Wednesday 06 November 2013

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Mahabubnagar bus tragedy: 15 more bodies identified by DNA

The identification of Palem bus accident victims picked up momentum with the help of DNA profiling as most of the 42 remains were identified except eight as on Tuesday.

“The remaining eight bodies, including four in which finding a DNA containing tissue is proving impossible, will also be matched to their blood relatives and will be handed over, completing the whole process,” said Mahabubnagar DRDA Project Director Chandrasekhar.

All of the 19 bodies, except two, identified on Monday have been handed over to their kin on Tuesday. Relatives of the four victims from Karnataka out of the 19 identified have also claimed the bodies.

However, the kin of the victims who expected some announcement on ex-gratia from Andhra Pradesh government were left disappointed. “We demand Rs 20 lakh ex-gratia as we have lost an earning member of our family with bright future. They should also give a government job to an eligible person in his immediate family,” Adari Krishna, a victim's father, said.

As many as 45 persons perished in the accident that occurred on October 30 in Palem of Mahbubnagar district. Three bodies were identified on the first day and were handed over to the relatives. Another 19 were identified on Monday and 15 on Tuesday taking the total of identified persons to 37.

Meanwhile, the CLUES team of AP police in its report to SP of Mahbubnagar district ruled out any sabotage and also any presence of crackers in the bus. However, the investigators felt that the accident occurred as the driver rammed the bus to the peculiar culvert wall on the right side of the bus, resulting in the bursting of fuel tank.

As the luggage section, which caught fire, was under the seats the driver might have failed to notice it spreading upwards.

Wednesday 06 November 2013

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Japan: Dentist helps identify mudslide victims

After typhoon-triggered mudslides hit Tokyo’s Izu Oshima island last month, a local dentist is striving to bring victims back to their families by identifying the bodies with his forensic dentistry expertise.

The Metropolitan Police Department has dispatched coroners to the island for body identification. Records at a local dental clinic have contributed to the work.

“I can recognize my patients by looking at their teeth,” said Ayumu Okayama, who operates a dental clinic in the town of Oshima hit hard by Typhoon No. 26 in mid-October.

A native of Nerima Ward, Tokyo, the 52-year-old Okayama opened the clinic 20 years ago in the town where his grandmother lived. An average of 20 patients visit his clinic a day, and he has examined more than 5,000 people on the island so far.

On Oct. 17, a day after the mudslides occurred, Okayama was asked to help identify the body of a man. He received a phone call from the son of a patient, who had visited his clinic for treatment until September. The son asked Okayama, “As my father received treatment at your clinic, could you identify his body? ”

Okayama then went to the morgue and saw the victim’s face, which looked just how it was when the man was alive. The man still had a gentle expression on his face that he always wore.

“The victim’s family could have recognized him immediately, but I think they didn’t want to believe it was him,” Okayama said.

After conducting dental identification, he told the family, “[The victim] must be him.” The bereaved family then thanked Okayama and bowed deeply.

Two days later, Okayama carried out another dental identification on a female victim at the request of the MPD. Just by looking at her teeth, he knew the victim was one of his patients.

“Dentists have their own ways of drilling and filling, so we recognize people we’ve worked on,” he said.

After referring to his office’s dental records, it was confirmed that the victim’s teeth matched those of a patient he examined several years ago.

“Dentists should not only fix teeth, but also face their patients, even after their death,” Okayama said.

When he was a dental university student, Okayama joined a team to carry out dental identification on victims of the crash of a Japan Airlines jet in 1985 upon the request of an acquaintance who is also a dentist and went to the same university. He climbed Mt. Osutaka in Gunma Prefecture to reach the crash site, where he checked the victims’ teeth with dental records. The bodies of the victims were unrecognizable, making teeth the key to identifying the victims. Okayama said helping to identify victims of the mudslides in Oshima reminds him of his experience on Mt. Osutaka.

Six of those who were killed by the mudslides, or went missing, are his patients.

“I have been able to work as a dentist thanks to support from residents of the island,” Okayama said. “I want [the victims] to be returned to their families as soon as possible.”

Wednesday 06 November 2013

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