PHUKET: The head of the Thailand Tsunami Victim Identification center (TTVI) today offered the services of Thai fingerprinting experts if the United States needs outside help in identifying the bodies of Hurricane Katrina victims.
Pol Gen Nopadol Somboonsub told the Gazette that he is unsure of the exact situation in the US now, but he assumes that bodies could be in a similar state as they were here after the tsunami.
“I used to have contacts with the team that identified victims in the aftermath of 9/11, and they already have expert knowledge and know what to do. [But] I think situation there now is on such a large scale that they might need foreign help, and could use Interpol. We did so after the tsunami hit Phuket, and it worked very well,” Gen Nopadol said.
“The weak point in Thailand after the tsunami was that we had no experience [of such a disaster] and had to use volunteers from overseas. We were very pleased to get their help, but [some] still lacked in-depth knowledge and understanding, and volunteers were rotated after arriving at the center and had started working. That is why so much was missed,” Gen Nopadol added.
He said that Thailand now has a professional team of experts who are able to lift prints from bodies in an advanced state of decomposition.
“We have the experience and can share it with them. We would be happy send our team of about 40 people to help in the US, especially in fingerprinting, which is the most important way of identifying victims.
“We also have dentists who helped after the tsunami, when computers were used to compare X-rays of teeth from bodies against existing records,” Gen Nopadol added.
“I don’t think that, in the US, they will leave the victims’ bodies in situ for too long, as I believe most were found in their homes. Their situation is different from ours: here, most of the corpses were found dumped together and without any way of identifying them, or where they had come from,” he said.
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