19 bodies of plane crash victims taken away without DNA testing: Edhi

PDMA identifies first plane crash victim using forensic odontology at Edhi morgue

Kashif Hussain May 26, 2020
PDMA identifies first plane crash victim using forensic odontology at Edhi morgue. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

KARACHI: The families of 19 plane crash victims have “forcefully” taken away as many bodies from an Edhi mortuary, without waiting for the DNA testing of the corpses to be carried out, said Edhi Foundation head Faisal Edhi on Tuesday.

Talking to media persons, he expressed concern that taken without DNA testing, the bodies might not have been correctly identified and later, the need might arise to exhume them for the purpose of identification.

He said that the families that had taken the bodies with them claimed to have recognised the deceased through personal belongings such as watches, identity cards and clothes.

“But since the bodies were badly burnt, there are high chances that they were wrongly identified, considering that there are possibilities of deceased belongings getting exchanged,” he said.

Airbus investigation team completes initial probe of PIA aircraft crash

Edhi also alleged that an MNA from Sohrab Goth, whom he did not name, had used his influence to help one of the families take a body with them but later, after dental examination, it turned out that the body was wrongly identified.

He further claimed that while the families took the bodies, police did not help Edhi workers in stopping them.

“And we had to hand over 19 bodies to the families out of the fear of vandalism,” he said, assuring that the rest of the bodies at the morgue would be handed over only after scientific verification.

Edhi also claimed that while the families “forcefully” the bodies away, police did not help Edhi workers in stopping them.

According to Edhi, two bodies out of those kept at the morgue have been identified so far, while the identification of 21 others through dental examination may take up to four days.

Forensic odontology begins

The Provincial Disaster Management Authority identified one of the victims of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) plane crash using forensic odontology. This is the first of the deceased at the Edhi morgue in Sohrab Goth identified through this process.

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday, PDMA Dental Investigator Dr Humayun Taimoor said that this method provides swift results, without room for errors. He was flanked by PDMA Deputy Director Muhammad Shayyan Shah.

Forensic odontology - or dental examination - relies on the shape and treatment of the victim’s teeth as well as their dental records.

Dr Taimoor said that so far the families of 21 victims have provided dental records and the data will be used to examine the bodies. The process of dental examination began on Monday and continued till 4am, he said, adding that the first of the deceased identified through this method was Muhammad Ataullah. The body of the deceased has been handed over to the aggrieved family, he said.

He appealed to the families of the victims as well as their respective dentists and dental surgeons to provide the dental records of the deceased as soon as possible. The information can be provided at the 03134171447 on Whatsapp, he said.

Elaborating further, Dr Taimoor referred to the three primary scientific ways for identifying disaster victims as listed in the Interpol’s Disaster Victim Identification Guidelines - fingerprints, odontology and DNA testing.

However, the first is time consuming and the third is inapplicable due to the condition of the bodies, said Dr Taimoor. Forensic odontology was used earlier as well to identify the victims of the PIA plane crash near Havelian in 2016, he informed, adding that back then 24 deceased of that incident were identified in four days.

According to the Interpol’s guidelines, teeth provide one of the most reliable forms of identification as they are highly durable and most people have dental records.

Dr Taimoor informed that this work is being carried out on the directives of the federal government and the collaboration of the provincial government, which has provided mobile units equipped with modern facilities for the identification process.


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