8 December 2013

Mozambique: Air Crash - DNA Collected to Identify Bodies

Photo: Embraer
A Mozambique Airlines aircraft of the type normally used on the Maputo to Luanda route.

Maputo — Work has begun on collecting DNA samples from relatives of those who died when the Mozambique Airlines (LAM) flight from Maputo to Luanda crashed on 29 November in northern Namibia, killing all 33 people on board.

According to a LAM press release, this work began on Friday, and is intended to assist in the identification of the bodies, which are currently in a morgue in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.

Reports from the crash site indicate that only one of the bodies was intact. The force of the impact dismembered the others, many of which were too severely burned for normal identification.

People directly related to the victims are being asked to come forward and provide samples. These, LAM says, will be examined "by a small group of well trained and experienced professionals, working on the basis of internationally recognised standards. They have been authorised by Mozambican forensic pathologists to undertake this important job".

This work is being done in private, and LAM guarantees that "the data will remain confidential forever. Nothing will be revealed to anyone who is outside this work. The only people who will have knowledge of it are those collecting the data, the people supporting the families, the staff of the laboratories that will make the analyses, and the families themselves".

The purpose of this exercise, the release says, is "to allow the delivery of the remains and possessions of all the people who were on board the flight so that the families can organise the funerals of their loved ones".

Although the collection of DNA is not invasive, psychologists are on hand to assist any family members who find the process stressful and disturbing.

Meanwhile, a mural in memory of those who died has been unveiled in an area beside the LAM headquarters. At this ceremony family members laid wreaths of white roses and other flowers. "This mural is a temporary arrangement to provide an immediate opportunity to thepeople who wish to pay homage to their loved ones", LAM explains. "In due time, a permanent and definitive memorial will be erected".

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