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.