Identifying bodies a dilemma again
ISLAMABAD: Local administration is once again facing the dilemma of identifying air crash victims as it had faced after the Airblue crash in the Margallas in July 2010.
Relatives have collected the bodies of 118 of the 127 persons who perished in Friday’s Bhoja Air crash but nine remain unclaimed. What makes the identification task difficult is that the remains of the victims fill 45 boxes.
Frankly, most of the bodies were badly mutilated in the unfortunate crash. It were mostly body parts that we collected from the crash site. Only a few were intact,” a senior health officer told Dawn.
Asked how they handed over the bodies to the heirs, he said: “Nadra helped us a lot and it was through finger marking and visual recognition.”
When a similar question was raised by this reporter with the deputy commissioner of Islamabad, Amir Ali Ahmed, he said visual recognition by heirs was the key method also mentioned in the law and followed globally.”
The second is DNA testing which takes a week or so.
“We can’t say no to the heirs if they claim that a body belongs to them because visual recognition is the key to any claim,” he added.
When told that some 45 coffins still remained with the local administration, Ahmed said: “Those 45 boxes are a symbol of respect given by my administration to the body parts of the victims. As Muslims, we respect every part of the body and keep them in separate coffin boxes.”
He said the body parts would remain at the cold storage till the final DNA test reports were available after which it would be handed over to the heirs.
“Once we receive a scientific report, we will hand over the bodies to the heirs.”
Asked what he would do if several boxes still remained in their custody, he said: “We will bury them as per the defined Islamic rules and principles separately.”
The DC said after the Airblue crash, they had faced a similar situation when they were left with some 20 coffins. But they followed the standard procedures.
Meanwhile, Ahmed said the PC-I for establishment of a new mortuary was being prepared by the ICT administration and in this regard the help of Pims management had also been sought.
It may be noted that the outpatient department (OPD) of Pims remained closed after the bodies of the air crash victims were kept in the hall. The executive director of the hospital, Prof Mahmood Jamal, said the OPD had now been opened.
However, the DC said nowhere in the country a mortuary was managed by the district management; instead it was under the administrative control of hospitals.
“However, to ease the load of Pims we have decided to go for an independent mortuary since we have to take a cold storage on rent during disasters.”