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DNA samples being obtained from relatives

September 14, 2012

KARACHI, Sept 13: With bodies of 82 victims of the Baldia factory blaze still unidentified, the Sindh health department collected around 65 blood samples from the victims’ relatives for DNA analysis on Thursday.

A senior health official told Dawn that comparing the DNA was the best option to identify the victims.

DNA samples from the bodies will be compared to those of the grieving relatives to see which family they belong to.

The DNA samples were collected at camps set up specially for the purpose at the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH), Civil Hospital Karachi (CHK) and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC).

The family members were required to provide photocopies of their national identity cards and also of the deceased members.

Paramedical staff and volunteers were present to guide them.

Javed Hassan, father of a young man who died at the factory, told Dawn that his 23-year-old son, Ahsan Javed, had left their home in Mujahidabad on Tuesday morning, never to return.

“I have inquired about his body at the JPMC and CHK, and also the Edhi morgue, but there is no trace,” he said. Then he came to know about the camps set up for DNA testing and I went there, he added.

Munawar George, the father of Saeed Munawar George, who had worked at the garment factory for the past two and a half years, said that he lived in Christian Colony, in Baldia Town, and had been unable to find his son’s body. He hoped that the DNA test would help identify has son’s body.

Another grieving man, Syed Hashmat Ali, who had come to the camp at the CHK, had lost his 20-year-old daughter, Zoya, in the fire. The family originally belongs to Kotri but has been living in Karachi for long.

Mr Ali said that Zoya had been working at the factory with four other women and a man, who were their relatives, for the past three to four years. All of them died.

“My daughter had recently said that she wanted to visit Kotri,” he said with tears in his eyes as the staff took his blood sample.

“Her wish will never come true now.”

Mr Ali condemned the factory management for negligence that resulted in so many deaths.

Till 8pm on Thursday, 39 samples had been collected at ASH, 16 at the CHK and 10 at the JPMC. Another official from the health department said that the collected samples would be sent through the police department to laboratories in Islamabad or Lahore.

The results would become available after 15 to 20 days.

According to the data provided by the health department, a total of 259 bodies were recovered from the inferno site, out of which 236 were of men and 23 were of women. Around 82 bodies, of which 72 are of men and 10 of women, have yet to be identified to be handed over to their relatives.