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Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 16:13 GMT 17:13 UK
Titanic dead remain unidentified
Researchers pray over the grave of an unidentified child victim
Researchers were hoping to identify all three of the victims
Two of the three Titanic grave sites in the Canadian city of Halifax have failed to provide suitable material for a DNA analysis.


It was important that we let the families know immediately so no hopes would be built up

Lakehead University official
The relatives, who asked investigators to determine whether the graves marked the last resting place of their family members, were told that initial tests showed the DNA was insufficient to warrant continued testing.

"It was impossible. It was important that we let the families know immediately so no hopes would be built up," said Nancy Angus of Lakehead University, where the tests were to take place.

"Everyone knew from the start there might be an opportunity that a DNA analysis could not be made," she added.

The luxury liner sank 89 years ago in the icy North Atlantic, killing 1,500 passengers.

Unknown child

However, investigators still hope samples taken from the grave of a two-year-old boy may lead to his identification.

Bow of the Titanic
Most of the victims still lie in the wreck on the ocean floor

A piece of bone taken from the third grave will be ground to powder to enable scientists to extract the DNA with chemicals.

Once an identification has been made, investigators will notify the family and the remains will again be interred.

The story of the unknown child is especially poignant.

When the crew of the retrieval ship discovered the body of the two-year-old they were so moved they bought a special tombstone.

The baby was probably a third-class passenger trapped below decks with his mother, who is believed to be buried in the same cemetery.

Researchers were hoping to identify all three of the mystery passengers, who have been known only as numbers.

But once the coffins were removed, they realised seeping water had badly damaged the remains.

Watery grave

Most of the Titanic's victims were never found and remain in their watery grave.

The 150 bodies that were recovered are buried in a graveyard in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

But 43 of the passengers and crew laid to rest there have never been identified.

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