Mass Disaster Victim Identification

Yesterday I have received a lecture about the victim identification during the Merapi Eruption, 2010 and Garuda Plane crash, 2007. It was an eye-opening lecture as the lecturer revealed the details during the case management. The volcano eruption took away 300 lives while the plane crash recorded 22 deceased. This lecture has stirred my interest in Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) because I feel the importance and urgency to resolve this matter accurately so as the release the dead bodies to their love ones. For further knowledge, I have read the report on Tsunami Victim Identification in Thailand.


(Thailand tsunami, 2004)

From the above 3 cases, I would like to conclude that an established mass disaster management system is imperative to handle this matter efficiently. When a disaster happens, the local authority would be able to respond according to the standard protocol.


(Acheh earthquake and tsunami,2004)

When the corpses are found, it is essential to label the bodies and note the location. This would facilitate identification process later on. Of course the easiest way of identification is by facial recognition by the surrounding people. When facial recognition is not possible, the place of found would suggest a clue about the identity of  the victim. For example, burnt dead bodies in air plane crash can be determined through seat allocation provided by the airline company.


(Garuda plane crash at Yogyakarta Airport, 2007)

Upon recovery, corpses will be sent to the forensic department for post-mortem identification. The sex, age range, stature and special characteristic will be recorded. If the number of victims is massive, such categorization would facilitate the reconciliation process, which is matching the ante-mortem data and the post-mortem data.


(transfer of the dead bodies from the Garuda plane crash, 2007)

After taking post mortem data, what would the authority do about the corpses? If the victims are identified, the bodies will be released to their family. The family can opt for individual burial, or mass burial together with other victims. Unidentified corpses will be buried as well after a certain time frame ( around 3 days) if refrigerators and other means of preservation are not available. When these victims are identified later on, the family has the option to transfer the remains to other graveyard.

Reference: Pongruk, 2005, Forensic aspect of disaster casualty management

This entry was posted in Disaster Management and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mass Disaster Victim Identification

  1. Adeline says:

    I was looking for ‘DVI in Indonesia’ in…
    N I happened to click this site, which I don’t realize was urs… =P

  2. hepisol says:

    Haha. I also tried google it after you told me. I am ranked no 4 in the search result 🙂

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