Work to identify earthquake victims completed

Work to identify earthquake victims completed

National News

Acting Chief Coroner Gordon Matenga and Police Inspector Mark Harrison have announced that all possible Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) work that can be carried out to identify the remaining victims of the 22 February Christchurch earthquake has now been completed.

"Any traces of DNA have been destroyed by the extremely high temperatures caused by the fire in the CTV building," Coroner Matenga says.

"Despite extensive and exhaustive efforts we have been unable to return any remains of their loved ones to these families but we have been able to issue inquest findings that will help them complete the formalities required."

Inspector Mark Harrison met with the families last week to advise them of the result. “We have been in constant contact with these families during the DVI process to ensure they knew what work was underway to identify their loved ones," says Inspector Harrison.

"I sat with these families last week and explained to them that we have been unable to do so. They appreciated that Police and the other people working with us had spent the last six months doing everything we could to identify them.

“We are now working with the families and the Christchurch City Council to ensure an appropriate memorial for these four victims is established.”

Inspector Harrison also thanked the many agencies that have worked tirelessly to identify the victims including Police staff, the Coroner's Office, scientists from ESR, dentists and other forensic experts.

Those that are unidentified are:
• Shawn LUCAS, age 40 (male) of Christchurch
• Rhea Mae SUMALPONG, age 25 (female) of the Philippines (Australian resident)
• Elsa TORRES DE FROOD, age 53 (female) of Peru (NZ resident)
• Valeri VOLNOV, age 41 (male) of Russia (NZ resident)

All victims were in the CTV building.

ENDS

Media contact for Police:
Stephen Hill, Communications Manager, Canterbury Police District
03 3637815 / 027 4363701
stephen.hill@police.govt.nz

Media contact for the Acting Chief Coroner:
Steve Corbett, ph. 027 666 8949,
Steve.corbett@justice.govt.nz