Nepal’s medical professionals are working round the clock to identify the bodies of victims recovered from the crash site of a US-Bangla flight in Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu.
Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital’s Head of Forensic Department Dr Pramod Srestha said they had so far received 49 bodies.
“We started receiving bodies following the crash. The last body we received was at 10pm on Monday,” he said, adding that their initial concern was to preserve the bodies,” he said.
Detailing the identification process, he said: “We started post-mortem examinations the next day. We have so far completed post-mortem of about 11 bodies.
“In the meantime, we are also collecting the victims’ personal belongings and ante-mortem data.”
Dr Srestha explained that ante-mortem data is information provided by the relatives of dead people to the doctors.
The data could include information about the victims’ height, weight, colour of eyes, personal jewelleries or accessories, any tattoos or marks on their bodies and any deformities or birthmarks.
“We also asked the relatives of the deceased about whether any of the passengers had any dental treatment done. If a dental chart is available, our dental team could use it to identify a body,” he said.
Doctors will compare post-mortem findings with anti-mortem data.
“Then we will try to establish an identity,” Dr Srestha said.
If there is still insufficient data, fingerprints can be collected from the body, if possible, and used for further identification.
But many of the bodies are charred and taking fingerprints from them is not possible. Doctors have so far managed to get fingerprints from four bodies.
Dr Srestha said they would sit with the family members, if needed, to collect more information but the process could take three or four more days.
“After comparing the post-mortem and the ante-mortem data, the hospital will inform police and release only the identified bodies,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “At this stage, we will go for DNA analysis to identify rest of the bodies.”
When asked how many bodies the hospital had received so far, he said: “We received 49 bodies … Most of them are charred beyond recognition.”
He said they were following an international procedure for post-mortem and identification of the bodies. ”
“The airport or the airlines authorities did not give us the flight manifesto. We had to ask the police to get it for us. There were no airport representatives when the bodies came in,” Dr Srestha added.
“We have had interaction with family members of the passengers in Bangladesh and we have given them the ante-mortem form. They will fill the form and send it back to us.”