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Türkiye uses DNA, fingerprints to identify quake victims in morgues

The devastating earthquakes that shook southern Türkiye and northern Syria on February 6 killed tens of thousands of people and injured thousands of others.

As the combined death toll in southern Türkiye and northern Syria surpassed 44,000 as of February 17, hundreds of body bags and corpses wrapped in blankets or tarpaulin are lying on pavements, stadiums and field hospitals. 

While some had tags carrying identifiable information, others did not. The families who recognised their loved ones are granted a death certificate and burial permission by local prosecutors, who are then allowed to take the bodies with them. But for the bodies that were not recognized by their families, the Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) spelt out instructions via a public announcement. 

According to AFAD, the unidentified bodies of earthquake victims will be buried within 24 hours after their fingerprints are recorded and DNA samples were taken.

The announcement further stated that the provincial or district prosecutors’ offices will conduct examinations of the bodies in the area where the dead bodies are located and that the unidentified remains would not be moved to surrounding provinces or districts.

It was approved to bury the deceased, which could not be identified by forensic examinations and thus could not be delivered to their relatives within 5 days, after the procedures of DNA tests, fingerprints and photographs, coupled with a record of the grave location in the official document.

However, according to the information received from the quake-hit provinces, regarding the difficulty of preserving the corpses and the problem of decomposition, the process was reduced to 24 hours.

The burial procedure will be carried out in accordance with religious rites following the joint evaluation of the Public Prosecutors Office and the Local Authority.

READ MORE: Boy among three survivors pulled alive 260 hours after Türkiye quakes

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