VICTIM IDENTIFICATION: Noppadol, Pornthip told to bury the hatchet

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Pongthep says police, forensics authorities must stop bickering and finish their work

Justice Minister Pong-thep Thepkanjana yesterday moved to end a conflict between forensics expert Khunying Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand and General Nop-padol Somboonsab, head of the police tsunami victim-identification unit, asking them not to talk to the media and asking Pornthip to continue her work at Phang Nga’s Wat Yan Yao.

After a four-hour meeting in Phuket’s Thai tsunami-victim identification centre with Porn-thip, Noppadol, relevant officials and provincial governors, Pong-thep held a press conference to report the outcome.

Noppadol said after the meeting that his comments on Pornthip’s work collecting DNA from dead tsunami victims had been distorted. He reiterated earlier comments that much of her team’s work is useful although some parts of it would need to be re-examined.

“What we both agreed on is that we will no longer give interviews because this was a case where one person said one thing and the media reported it in a different way, causing a problem,” said Noppadol. “We will stop talking and keep working to produce accurate information. We must cooperate.”

Pornthip said she would let bygones be bygones. She promised that the Central Institute of Forensic Science team would try to finish its work to the best of its ability at an arranged site, a townhouse just opposite to Wat Yan Yao.

Meeting participants agreed there must be cooperation between the police team and the institute’s team, Pongthep said. Officials would have to go back and re-check some bodies from which workers failed to obtain fingerprints, dental prints or DNA samples, he said.

Dr Supa-chai Kunarat-tanapreuk, the Public Health Ministry’s deputy permanent secretary, said authorities still have in storage 3,800 bodies out of the 5,400 re-covered. Some 1,600 bodies have been returned to relatives. About 25 bodies are retrieved by relatives per day.

Pongthep said there are 1,720 bodies at Wat Yan Yao and some of them needed to be re-examined.

Authorities are short of medical experts to help enter data from old sources into the disaster victim-identification (DVI) database, Pongthep said. The initial data was collected from more than 4,000 bodies by various groups whose forms differ from the standardised DVI form, which needs to completed by a medical expert.

Published on February 11, 2005

Salinee Parb

The Nation

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Inter-faith prayers

Religious services will be held on Sunday in memory of the tsunamis that swept southern Andaman provinces.

Buddhist, Christian and Islamic ceremonies will be held in front of the La Flora Hotel on Phang Nga’s Ban Bang Niang beach, where the body of Khun Poom Jensen, son of Princess Ubolratana Rajakanya, was found.

Ranong will also host similar rites. – The Nation

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