FBI to assist in matching DNA with family members
An FBI team will help identify the 321 unidentified bodies recovered from the Rana Plaza rubble by seeing if their DNA samples match those collected from people claiming to be their relatives, said Prof Sharif Akhteruzzaman yesterday.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) team, scheduled to arrive next month, will provide an advanced software programme, Combined DNA Index System (CODIS), said the national technical adviser of National Forensic DNA Profiling Laboratory (NFDPL).
The FBI team will train local experts on using the software which would help make the comparison process less time consuming and identify the bodies by September, he said.
Prof Akhteruzzaman was delivering a lecture, “Application of DNA in Mass Disaster Victim Identification”, at Asiatic Society of Bangladesh's monthly general meeting at its premises in the capital.
“The FBI is providing CODIS free of cost under a bilateral agreement. This kind of software costs Tk one crore in the open market,” he added. NFDPL collected samples of the 321 highly decomposed bodies and those of 520 people claiming to be their relatives. “Comparing such a large number of samples was not virtually possible with the software that we have at present,” he said.
NFDPL used its present infrastructure to collect samples of 59 unidentified Tazreen Fashions fire victims in November, 2012 and identified 41 of them.
Prof Akhteruzzaman said they also successfully identified bodies of four army officials following the 2009 mutiny in Pilkhana.
He said he had several times suggested the higher authority to initiate the DNA profiling of unidentified bodies from different accidents and keep those in a national database, but to no avail. “This database can help reveal the identities even after many years,” he said.
He added that a DNA act 2012 was being drafted which would help start the compilation for the database.
Starting its journey in 2006, NFDPL is the only laboratory of its kind in the country, available for only profiling DNA samples for forensic uses.