DANA plane crash: victims' families protest delay in DNA examination

Relations of victims of the DANA plane crash whose bodies are currently being identified through DNA tests at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, have protested the delay in the process.

On Thursday, the hospital was crowded with relations who had come to claim the remains of their loved ones who died in Sunday’s Dana flight

J992 crash that led to the death of all 153 persons on board.

Although all the corpses had been evacuated from the crash site, 52 of them could not be identified as they were burnt beyond recognition.

Following the development, the Lagos State Government had directed that a DNA tests be carried out on the victims to ascertain their true identity.

The relations complained that the pace at which the forensic examination is being conducted at the Pathology and Forensic Department is too slow and could delay the process of claiming the bodies.

Gbenga Eguntola, who came with the immediate family of the late spokesman of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Levi Ajuonuma, said that going by the present pace, it would take about two weeks to finish the DNA tests.

Mr. Eguntola, however, commended the move by the state government to carry out autopsy on all the bodies.

According to him, there is the need to bring in more experts to ensure that the forensic examination is concluded within the shortest time possible.

“We got here 8 a.m. and just two families out of the 36 families that were scheduled for DNA examination today have been called in for the DNA examination.

“The process is just too slow and they may need to bring in more forensic experts to speed up this process; the process of waiting to even identify is too painful to be prolonged.”

Commenting on the issue, the Chief Medical Director, David Oke, said that the forensic examination on all the 52 bodies might take four to six weeks to ensure that all scientific processes of identifying bodies were.

Mr. Oke said that some of the tissues collected from the victims and their family members would be flown out of the country for comprehensive forensic investigations.

“We need to get the genetic mark of the bodies and we may face challenges with the unrecognisable bodies.

“Bodies which require this will take up to six weeks to be concluded because we are going to take tissues outside the country”.

The medical director also explained that the delay experienced on Thursday morning was due to the fact that the pathology team had to wait for the forensic team to conclude some DNA processes.

“The head of the team, Prof. Obafunwa was busy in the autopsy room and so the other teams had to wait for him to supervise their analysis.

“To ensure accuracy, he would be supervising the DNA examination himself.”

He added that samples would only be taken from parents and that siblings would be considered in peculiar cases.

“We are asking the mother and father of the deceased preferably to come or the siblings so that we can take the specimen from them.

“In the absence of these people, specimen would be taken from the children.”

He said that only these relations could present the genetic materials needed to match up with the DNA of the victims.

“Ideally, if we have the father and mother, we are likely to get a perfect match; the match becomes less perfect as you go down the terrain, that is siblings and children.”

The chief medical director also said that the results of the autopsy could give an insight into the cause of the crash if the bodies of the crew members were identified.

“The autopsy will reveal whether the crew were in the right medical state to fly the plane.

“So we want to make sure that the crew were not intoxicated and not using any drugs at about the time of the accident and that whoever we are calling the crew are the right people.”



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