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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 January, 2005, 01:53 GMT
Met Police helps identify victims
Forensic officers in Thailand
More officers could be sent to the region if necessary
A team of 40 Metropolitan Police forensic experts has been sent to Thailand and Sri Lanka to identify British victims of the Asian tsunami.

The Disaster Victim Identification Team officers are using DNA, dental records and fingerprints to identify the bodies recovered so far.

The officers hope to identify every British victim found. No time limit has been set for the process.

More officers are on standby to head to the region if necessary.

The officers are determined to complete the task and they want to offer the best they can to the relatives
Det Sgt Gary Locker
Disaster Victim ID Unit
Some of the team worked on identifying victims of the 11 September attacks, the Bali bombings and the Potters Bar rail crash.

Detective Sergeant Gary Locker, the team's co-ordinator, said: "The ultimate purpose is to establish the correct identity of each body recovered with the clarity and dignity the deceased deserve.

"It is a tremendous challenge and this is an unprecedented task.

"We will be working to correctly identify every deceased person. The officers are determined to complete the task and they want to offer the best they can to the relatives."

Grim task

DNA samples are being collected from relatives of the missing to assist in the process.

New body arrives for identification
Most of the team is in Thailand, where new bodies arrive daily
The officers are scouring hospitals, undertakers and makeshift morgues set up in temples, where the bodies of tourists are being held.

The officers are told to stop work if they are overcome by the grim task that confronts them. Each will be offered counselling when they return to the UK.

The team forms part of an international effort to put names to the victims, the BBC's Gavin Hewitt said.

There are 1,000 bodies awaiting identification on the Thai resort island of Phuket. On Tuesday another eight container loads of corpses arrived.

Identification is proving so difficult that all bodies of European origin are being sent to China for DNA testing, meaning a longer wait before they will be released for burial.

Detective Chief Inspector Graham Walker, with the team in Thailand, said: "The best guess is [they would be released] certainly not within eight weeks and it could be some time after that.

"Certainly we could be talking about months."

UK forensic police help Thai's identify bodies


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