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Disaster Victim Identification teams in for the long haul

Disaster Victim Identification teams in for the long haul.
6 March, 2011 - 11:05

Police say identifying all the victims of the Christchurch earthquake could take weeks, and possibly months.

Over 240 DVI staff are involved, including teams from Australia, UK, Japan, China, Thailand, Singapore, Israel and Thailand.

Superintendent Sam Hoyle says the DVI teams continue to work carefully through the complex identification process but it won't be done overnight.

"We are acutely aware that families want their loved ones returned, particularly our guests from overseas, and our teams are working flat out to achieve this.

"However international experience from events such as the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Victoria bush fires has shown it can be months before all identities are confirmed.

"In exceptional cases it has taken years to identify all the victims of mass casualty events.

"This is painstaking, exacting work and the reality is very different from how it looks in television programmes such as CSI.

"You don't get DNA matches in seconds at the push of a button - it takes time.

"We are following international best practice standards and have some of the most experienced DVI specialists in the world working with us.

"The focus is to make accurate identifications. We are not going to rush this process and risk causing further pain to grieving families by making a mistake.

"If we make a mistake we create uncertainty and doubt for everyone.

"We can't make it better for the families but we can certainly make it worse for them if we get it wrong.

"We ask for your patience and understanding while our large team continues to work through this difficult and complex job."

ENDS

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