Disaster Victim Identification

Princess of the Stars recovery operations August 2008. Photo credit: U.S. Navy

Based on its high-throughput standing capacity for DNA testing from human remains and its expertise in DNA matching to family DNA samples, ICMP has been involved in a number of DNA DVI events. The first of these was the 2004 Southeast Asian Tsunami, where ICMP tested more than 1,200 bone samples and issued DNA identification reports for more than 900 individuals.  Shortly thereafter, ICMP provided DNA testing of victim samples from the State of Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. ICMP has also been involved in DVI responses in the Philippines, Haiti, Cuba, Cameroon, Namibia, and Kenya.

The international Thai Tsunami DVI effort was overseen by INTERPOL and was a defining event for the international DVI community. As a result of lessons learned there with regard to preparedness and standing capacity for DNA identification, in 2007 ICMP and INTERPOL, formalized their DVI cooperation. The agreement was invoked for the first time after Typhoon Frank in the Philippines  in 2008, giving rise to a prompt and effective DVI response, including high-throughput DNA matching.

ICMP is a regular participant in INTERPOL DVI Incident Response Team deployments, providing rapid assessment and recommendations following disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the Westgate Shopping Mall terrorist attack in Nairobi in 2013  and the 2014 Malaysian Airlines (MH 17) crash in Ukraine.

INTERPOL and ICMP have developed plans to create a permanent “DVI Platform” to serve as a global resource for the international coordination and conduct of DVI operations.

ICMP also maintains a bilateral agreement with Denmark to provide standing capacity in DNA testing, in case of a large-scale event affecting that country.