DNA tests for Kenya fuel tanker victims

February 18, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 18 – The government plans to carry out DNA tests on the remains of 78 who were killed in a tanker fire two weeks ago.

The tests will be carried out on samples that were taken before the bodies were buried in a mass grave last week, to enable families confirm the identities.

Chief Government Pathologist Dr Moses Njue said on Wednesday that they were working on modalities for the undertaking, including funding and other logistics.

“All we know is that 78 people were buried. No one knows who they were, which is why we need to do DNA tests to identify them,” he said.

He said samples from the bodies were preserved to await the forensic tests.

“We have the samples kept. The bodies are also clearly marked and preserved which means we know where everyone is,” he added.

Speaking while releasing DNA tests for victims of the Nakumatt fire tragedy, Dr Njue announced that they planned to call all the relatives of those killed to collect samples from them.

The samples will then be matched with those from the body remains to help in identification.

Unless the DNA tests are conducted, he said, no death certificate can be issued to family members.

“We only issue death certificates to positively identified persons,” he said.

Dr Njue said families of the deceased persons were likely to experience challenges on various follow-up issues which include property inheritance and insurance.

The 78 people were among 133 who were burnt when a fuel tanker exploded at Sachang’wan in Molo after they had rushed to siphon petrol.

More than 70 others who sustained injuries during the January 31 tragedy are admitted to various hospitals in Nairobi and Rift Valley provinces.

Those burnt beyond recognition were buried in a mass grave less than 100 metres from the scene of the accident, which authorities described as one of the worst in recent times.

“The families are going to face various challenges and that is why we want to ensure they are well taken care of,” Dr Njue said.

Those killed in the inferno included men, women and children of various age groups.

In the past, the country has experienced similar fire incidents including the Kiambaa church fire that occurred during last year’s post election violence.

The other two incidents occurred at Kyanguli and Bombolulu where victims were burnt beyond recognition.

“These incidents are different from the Nakuru tragedy.  For instance, the Kyanguli incident had involved school boys. These are people who do not have property and DNA tests were not conducted,” he explained.

Dr Njue said once funds were available, DNA tests on victims of Molo and Kiambaa will be conducted to bring the matters to an end.

“We are committed and something is being done, the DNA tests will be conducted,” he said.


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