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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2005, 16:35 GMT
Grieving family accepts tsunami death
Samantha Fayet
Samantha Fayet was identified by jewellery and a watch

After nine weeks of grief and searching, the family of a British woman who drowned in the Asian tsunami believe they may have found her body.

Alexandra Mackenzie tells the BBC News website how the family has coped with losing - and then finding - her cousin, Samantha Fayet.

Samantha, 32, died with her six-month-old baby Ruby Rose while holidaying in Thailand on 26 December when the tsunami struck.

Her French husband, Patrice, survived and together with Samantha's sister Nathalie he searched desperately, believing they had survived the wave which killed more than 300,000 people in 11 countries.

But ultimately their hopes have been replaced by the reality that the pair perished - but due to confusion and bureaucracy they cannot yet claim the body which they believe to be Samantha's.

Alexandra Mackenzie, speaking in London, said: "We believe we have found her, and we certainly hope so, but we have not yet had any absolute confirmation."

We can understand that they have to be careful and tick all the boxes, but there needs to be an international effort
Alexandra Mackenzie
Cousin of Samantha Fayet

The body was identified by Samantha's watch and jewellery after a helpful volunteer at a Thai morgue sent a photo of a body to the family on 1 February. A caesarean scar helped confirm Samantha's identity.

However, keeping tabs on the body proved impossible, and the family eventually lost contact with the location of the body in the photo.

Identification numbers originally attached to corpses were changed and some were written with soluble ink which dissolved when the bodies were washed, Ms Mackenzie said.

Now, at the beginning of March, the authorities have again tracked down the body - whose ID number has changed but the jewellery remains intact.

"The authorities have requested more dental records and they have fingerprinted Samantha's flat in Paris.

"But the identification process is really quite horrendous. It is causing grief to lots of families," Ms Mackenzie said.

Ruby Rose Fayet
Only DNA evidence will help. There is no other way to identify the babies and we want to know why aren't they being prioritised

She had "no idea" how long before the body could be repatriated, but the family are desperate for some sort of closure.

"Nobody can move on. You can't move on. We're still searching for Ruby - it would be pretty cruel to put Patrice and my uncle through having to collect Sam and then Ruby afterwards," Ms Mackenzie said.

Asked if Patrice is coping with the sudden loss of his young family, Ms Mackenzie said: "Not really - how can he?"

She says the search for the pair has taken up much of her time as she trawls websites looking for possible matches.

"I've located a close match for Ruby but there's a French family looking for an almost identical baby: same sex, same age, same height, wearing almost the same clothes.

"The one I have located is almost unrecognisable."

She found the photo match on 17 February with an ID number but the body has yet to be located.

"Only DNA evidence will help. There is no other way to identify the babies and we want to know why aren't they being prioritised."

Thailand: 55 dead, 112 missing
Sri Lanka: 13 dead, 8 missing
Maldives: 3 dead
Source: Foreign Office as at 1 March

Ms Mackenzie has written to the Foreign Office to ask how many bodies between 60-70cm tall are at the international mortuary in Thailand.

The Foreign Office has confirmed 71 Britons died in the tsunami - 55 in Thailand, 13 in Sri Lanka and three in the Maldives.

However, 112 Britons remain missing in Thailand and eight in Sri Lanka.

"We can understand that they have to be careful and tick all the boxes, but there needs to be an international effort.

"Hundreds of families in the UK are living through this, but also a lot of people gave money in aid - families here need help too.

"They need answers and closure."

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