Phuket

Two-month deadline set for tsunami victims ID

PHUKET CITY: The bodies of 2,370 tsunami victims remain unidentified due to a lack of forensic evidence, but the operation to identify them will be wound up soon, a senior Phuket police officer said yesterday.

All those that have not been identified within the coming two months will be buried at the Sea Gypsy cemetery in Mai Khao, Provincial Police Deputy Commander Pol Col Kokiat Wongvorachart said, adding that the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) center will also close at that time.

Speaking at a press conference at Phuket Provincial hall yesterday, Col Kokiat said that 1,833 of the corpses were in cold storage containers in Mai Khao. The remainder, thought to be the bodies of Thai residents of Phang Nga, are being stored at at Wat Bang Ma Ruan in Phang Nga’s Takuapa District.

“We have been unable to identify these corpses due to lack of dental records, fingerprints and other forensic data from victims’ relatives,” Col Kokiat said.

He added that forensic experts with the DVI center had recorded a profile for each corpse based on a number of factors, including dental records, scars and tattoos, clothing and DNA samples extracted from bone marrow.

But no evidence to match the profiles of the 2,370 unidentified bodies has yet been submitted, he explained.

He added that of the 200 bodies recovered in Phuket, only 28 have yet to be identified.

The DVI center must finish its work within two months, he said, after which time all of the unidentified bodies will be buried at the Sea Gypsy cemetery in Mai Khao.

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