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Families protest slow pace of DNA examinations

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Some relations of Sunday’s Dana Air plane crash victims have protested the delay in the ongoing DNA process to identify victims.

The forensic examination on the 52 identifiable bodies from the crash, started on Thursday, and by afternoon, only two DNA samples had been taken.

Meanwhile, 36 families were scheduled to have their DNA examinations at the Lagos State Teaching Hospital’s Department of Pathology and Forensic medicine.

“We got here 8am and its now 1pm and just two families out of the 36 families that were scheduled for DNA examination have been called in for the DNA examination,” said Gbenga Eguntola, who was with the family of Levi Ajuonuma, the late spokesperson of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

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

The relations called for additional forensic experts to speed up the process, to meet up within the two weeks, as promised by the state government.

However, in spite of their displeasure, many of the relations commended the state government for carrying out the exercise.

But some of the relations, particularly, those connected with victims whose bodies were unidentifiable might have to wait as long as six weeks to claim their relative.

In his reaction, David Oke, the Hospital’s Chief Medical Director, said that the forensic examination being carried out on all 149 bodies recovered from the crash site may take four to six weeks to be concluded.

He said that the tissues collected from the victims and their relations would be flown abroad for comprehensive forensic investigation.

“We need to get the genetic mark of the bodies and we may face challenges with the unrecognisable bodies. Bodies who require this will take up to six weeks to be concluded because we are going to take tissues outside the country,” he said.

Oke said that Thursday’s delay arose because the team leader and Chief Medical Examiner, John Obafunwa, had to “personally” supervise a lot of the analyses being done.

Oke added that samples would only be taken from parents, siblings and children of the victims, as only they would have the genetic materials needed to do the DNA match up.

“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,” he said.

Oke also assured relatives that the process of taking the samples  would not require blood donation, adding that the autopsies assist to provide information on the medical state of the crew.

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

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