The Victims Of A Disaster Victim Identification

1998 Words8 Pages
It was the first brightening of December 26, 2004, the day after Christmas, when the ocean broke off the coast of Indonesia, storming with an archaic roar. Rising from the ocean floor, colossal waves purloined masses of land, fami¬lies of loved ones and towns of their identity. The Sumatra earthquake registered 9.4 on the Richter scale and generated a tsunami that whipped across the coast of 13 nations, causing nearly 217,000 deaths and 125,000 injuries. Victim Identification was critical to prevent issues at cultural, humanitarian and legal levels for the surviving family members and friends. It could potentially risk living people and create mental problems for victim families until their loved ones are identified and brought home. I was part of the DVI (Disaster Victim Identification) team to identify victims, and based the process upon the international Interpol DVI guidelines. Identification by means of external appearances was difficult due to the environmental conditions that quickly lead to decomposed corpses. Thus the different steps of odontology, fingerprinting, and molecular genetic investigations played a huge role in identifying the victims. The Thailand Tsunami was an open disaster, where the number and identity of victims involved was unknown as there were no prior records or descriptive data available. There were many locals as well as foreign victims from a span of 30 countries, making it arduous to estimate the confirmed number of victims after the event.
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