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PIA Press Release

Initial results of DNA test to identify ferry victims out soon

Cebu City (14 August) -- Families of perished Typhoon "Frank' victims can now breathe a sigh of relief as the first deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)-based forensic identification of the fatalities of the latest ferry tragedy will soon be made available.

The Disaster Victim Identification - Information Management Center composed of Philippine disaster management officials, DVI experts from the International Police Commission (Interpol) and the International Commission on Missing Persons bared the announcement in a statement faxed to the Philippine Information Agency (PIA-7) Office.

Concerned families may soon claim the remains of their loved ones after an official notification from the National Bureau of Investigation - Disaster Victims Identification (NBI-DVI) Unit or the police.

Authorities appeal to the public especially the affected families or parties not to troop to the DVI - Information Management Center unless otherwise officially advised by the NBI or police.

The faxed statement placed emphasis on the likelihood of minimal numbers of identifications to be announced at a given time as the entire announcement process regarding the first DNA matches and identifications may take some time to complete due to the complexity of the processes involved.

A number of procedures will be strictly adhered to be able to maintain order and dignity in the process of victim identification and the return of remains to the families. These procedures are:

1) Families whose loved ones have been identified will be contacted by the NBI or police, asking them to report on a certain day to the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes in downtown Cebu City carrying some form of official identification (marriage certificates, victim's birth certificate or any proof of relationship with the missing person). They will receive detailed instructions at the morgue as to what to do next.

2) Families who receive information or are contacted about the identification of their loved ones are requested to call (032) 416-5025 or 253-8730 to confirm the information with authorities.

3) Grief counseling and other support will be made available in Cebu for those who need it when they arrive to claim remains.

4) Additional information, only for families who have been told to claim remains of loved ones, is available on telephone numbers (032) 416-5025 or 253-8730. These numbers will be manned from 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon and 1:00 p.m. 5:00 p.m., Monday to Saturday.

Families who have recently changed their given contact numbers are advised to immediately inform the NBI-DVI about their new contact numbers to ensure smooth coordination in the future.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has tasked the NBI to lead the operations in hastening the identification of the fatalities of the sunken MV Princess of the Stars where over 500 bodies still remain trapped inside the vessel as it capsized off the coast of Sibuyan Island in Romblon at the height of Typhoon Frank's fury last June 21.

There were a total of 864 passengers on board the vessel. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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