NZ Herald: Christchurch earthquake: DNA sought to identify victims

Beck Vass writes in the New Zealand Herald about the identification work being by disaster victim identification teams, who are asking families to bring in anything which might have DNA – toothbrushes and hairbrushes for example – to try and formally identify victim of Tuesday’s Christchurch earthquake.

DNA is used as a last resort for identifying victims, when other methods such as visual identification and dental records aren’t possible.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

A police source said staff were creating lists of missing people in what is known as an “ante-mortem” or “before death” process.

The process involves obtaining detailed descriptions of how the missing people looked when they were last seen. It includes a person’s weight, any distinguishing features, dental records, scars, tattoos, eye colour, hair colour, and details of any jewellery and clothing they were wearing at the time.

In extreme circumstances, only a person’s DNA would help identify victims and in these cases, a hairbrush or toothbrush which contained traces of DNA would be matched to a person’s remains, he said.