The Interpol Incident Response Team (IRT) deployed after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX in March has finished assisting with positive identification of all victims.
Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 from Addis Ababa bound for Nairobi crashed near Bishoftu, killing all passengers and crew members from 35 countries.
At the request of Ethiopian authorities, Interpol sent an IRT to assist with the operation two days after the crash. The team co-ordinated the international police disaster victim identification (DVI) response and ante-mortem data from member countries.
The IRT ensured identification efforts were conducted in accordance with international DVI standards and assisted with fingerprint and DNA samples. The Interpol special representative office at the African Union in Addis Ababa assisted with co-ordination and support.
Using its national central bureau global network, the international police agency centralised collection of DNA material from victims’ families to aid identification. The DNA samples were analysed by a specialist laboratory.
Almost a hundred DVI experts from 14 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe supported the IRT’s work during the mission.
Six months after the aircraft crash, all victims have been positively identified.
Working with Interpol member countries and expertise from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) resulted in 48 positive identifications by fingerprints.
“In the wake of a tragedy such as this, accurate victim identification is massively important to families suffering loss,” Interpol Secretary General Jürgen Stock said.
“International co-operation and co-ordination is vital and this is where Interpol’s DVI experience provides value to member countries faced with a major disaster.”
To date this year Interpol has deployed five IRTs assisting investigative efforts following terrorist attacks at sites in Sri Lanka in April and a hotel complex in Kenya in January.