63 of 72 Valenzuela City fire victims identified
The Philippine National Police crime laboratory identified within 15 days 63 of 72 bodies that were recovered in the May 13 Valenzuela City factory fire, making the DNA identification process “one of the fastest in history.”
In a meeting with Valenzuela Mayor Rex Gatchalian on Thursday, Senior Supt. Emmanuel Aranas of the PNP crime laboratory said 60 of the victims were known through DNA test by the PNP scene of the crime operations (Soco) disaster victim identification (DVI), while the remaining three victims, including the company owner’s son, were easily identified.
At least 72 individuals died in a seven-hour fire that gutted the factory of Kentex Manufacturing Inc. in Barangay (village) Ugong. The fire was said to have started when spark from a welding work landed on highly-flammable materials stored inside the factory.
The crime laboratory deputy director said 26 of the bodies recovered were males, while 37 were females. Police earlier collected DNA samples from the relatives of the victims through a buccal swab or gently scraping inside the mouth.
Aranas said the police were having difficulty identifying one of the nine remaining bodies as it was “too burned.” He said it would be “impossible to produce DNA materials that can help to its identification.”
But the PNP vowed that Soco would continue working out the identification of the eight remaining bodies.
“The standards we got immediately matched so the process was fast,” Aranas said.
Members of Soco also met with the families to issue death certificates and “discuss possible options” for the bodies.
Contributing to the speedy identification of victims, according to the crime laboratory, are its upgraded facilities and equipment for the forensic operations and a dedicated workforce in coordination with the Valenzuela local government unit.
Gatchalian earlier pledged that the city government would assist the families in the cremation and transfer of their relatives’ remains from Arkong Bato Cemetery to their hometowns for final burial. With Ma. Rhona Ysabel Daoang/RC
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