The bodies of a U.S. security guard and a Fijian colleague have been mistakenly sent to the wrong countries for burial in a tragic mix-up after their civilian helicopter was shot down in Iraq, an official said on Tuesday.
Eleven people—six U.S. civilians, three Bulgarians and two Fijians—were killed on April 21 when their commercial helicopter was shot down north of Baghdad.
The body mix-up only became apparent when the caskets of what were believed to be six Americans arrived in the United States last week and only five DNA tests matched, U.S. Ambassador to Fiji David Lyon told Reuters on Tuesday.
Checks on two bodies flown to Fiji found only one was Fijian.
“The bodies were processed in one of the morgues I believe in Kuwait. There was a mistake in identifying the bodies,” he said.
DNA testing was still being carried out to determine which Fijian had been sent to the United States and which had been correctly sent home for an island burial.
“We are moving as quickly as we possibly can to straighten it out and get the right body to the right family,” Lyon said.