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Forensic Identification of Paco Fire Victims
Various conventional forensic techniques, e.g. fingerprint analysis, anthropology and odontology, aid in the identification of sources of human remains. However, there are cases when recovered remains are not recognizable using these conventional methods. In the fire that burned down the Asosacion de Damas de Filipinas social welfare institution in Paco, Manila in December 1998, identification was made more difficult because victims were mostly children with under developed features, the absence of a standard procedure for proper recovery of remains of mass disaster victims that resulted in the intermingling of bodies and insufficient ante- and post-mortem data. With these limitations, individualization of the fatalities at the DNA level was necessitated.


DNA typing is often used to identify remains of mass disaster victims. Methods such as Short tandem Repeat (STR) analysis and mitochondrial DNA sequencing have been used for this purpose with varying degrees of success. DNA analysis requires the victim’s reference DNA sample for comparison with the DNA profile of the remains. If this is not available, reference samples from relatives, usually from the victims’ parents, may be used to reconstruct the victims’ genotype.

Collaborating agencies: Dr. Racquel Fortun School of Pathology, UP College of Medicine, Dr. Daniel Magtanong UP College of Dentistry and Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption

Received assistance from Applera Corporation, San Francisco, USA, Secura International Corp., MedTest Philippines and anonymous donors

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