AFPSurfers in Honolulu pray for the victims of the Maui wildfires
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 14:13
A team of forensic pathologists, X-ray specialists, fingerprint experts and forensic dentists is working on Maui to identify victims. On the Hawaiian island last week was the deadliest wildfire in the United States in more than a hundred years.
The forensic specialists are part of a team that is deployed in disasters with large numbers of fatalities, the Reuters news agency writes. That number has now passed 100 on Maui.
Hundreds of people are still missing and only a few victims have been identified. Every day, search and rescue teams bring remains to the temporary morgue where forensic specialists are working, Reuters writes. Here the remains are given a tracker, after which they are subjected to various investigations.
X-rays and dna samples
Sometimes things like fingerprints, hair color, height, weight and tattoos can be recorded or taken. Some skeletal remains are also still suitable for taking DNA samples or an X-ray may provide useful information, for example that someone has a hip implant.
Another team collects information from families of missing people to see if there are any similarities with found remains. These specialists check, for example, whether fingerprints or DNA samples of the missing persons exist.
“It’s so important for families to get their loved ones back,” said Frank Sebastian, team leader on Maui. “If we let that happen, it’s a great day.”
Rapid fire spread
It remains to be seen whether all the people who died can be identified. The fires were caused by a so-called foe wind, a very dry and warm wind. This caused the fire to spread very quickly. According to Governor Josh Green, the extreme heat of the fire makes it “difficult to recognize anyone.”
Maui residents have already strongly criticized the authorities. There would hardly have been any warning of the approaching fire. Governor Green has said an investigation has been launched into the functioning of the warning system.