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International help to ID Katrina victims

A Sarajevo-based group that helped identify victims of the 1990s Yugoslavia wars and last year’s South Asia tsunami said on Thursday it would help with Hurricane Katrina victims.
/ Source: Reuters

A Sarajevo-based group that helped identify victims of the 1990s Yugoslavia wars and last year’s South Asia tsunami said on Thursday it would help with Hurricane Katrina victims.

The International Commission on Missing Persons said it would analyze bone samples to obtain DNA profiles that could then be used to identify those bodies still unidentified.

“Under an agreement between ICMP and the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, ICMP will test an estimated 260 to 350 bone samples to assist in identification of victims of the August hurricane,” the Commission said in a statement.

“The DNA profiles will be returned to the Louisiana authorities for matching with family members’ DNA profiles there,” it added.

The Commission, set up by the international community in 1996 to help search for some 30,000 people missing from the wars in former Yugoslavia, has developed a successful system of large-scale DNA-led identification.

It has analyzed bone samples and matched their DNA with that of relatives of the missing in the former Yugoslavia and Asia, and helped identify the remains of 6,000 of the 12,500 Bosnian war dead who have been identified.

The ICMP said it had achieved a 100 percent success rate with test samples sent from Louisiana state in November.

“Hurricane Katrina is a relatively recent disaster and in this case the quantity of DNA is much higher than in older bones so we are expecting to have a success rate of 100 percent or close,” ICMP Chairman James Kimsey said.

The ICMP has identified the remains of almost 700 Asian tsunami victims and is processing a further 1,000 cases.