Am J Forensic Med Pathol 2005 Sep;26(3):285-91
DNA Analysis Laboratory, Natural Sciences Research Institute, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines.
In a fire tragedy in Manila in December 1998, one of the worst tragic incidents which resulted in the reported death of 23 children, identity could not be established initially resulting in the burial of still unidentified bodies. Underscoring the importance of identifying each of the human remains, the bodies were exhumed 3 months after the tragedy. We describe here our work, which was the first national case handled by local laboratories wherein conventional and molecular-based techniques were successfully applied in forensic identification. The study reports analysis of DNA obtained from skeletal remains exposed to conditions of burning, burial, and exhumation. DNA typing methods using autosomal and Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat (Y-STR) markers reinforced postmortem examinations using conventional identification techniques. The strategy resulted in the identification of 18 out of the 21 human remains analyzed, overcoming challenges encountered due to the absence of established procedures for the recovery of mass disaster remains. There was incomplete antemortem information to match the postmortem data obtained from the remains of 3 female child victims. Two victims were readily identified due to the availability of antemortem tissues. In the absence of this biologic material, parentage testing was performed using reference blood samples collected from parents and relatives. Data on patrilineal lineage based on common Y-STR haplotypes augmented autosomal DNA typing, particularly in deficiency cases.