AMSTERDAM - Around 70 coffins containing the remains of MH17 victims within body bags have been opened and examined by disaster victim identification (DVI) experts as of Wednesday, said Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam.
He said it was likely that all the body bags from the 227 coffins flown over from the crash site in Torez, Ukraine, to the Hilversum medical military base in the Netherlands would be examined within two to three weeks.
Subramaniam said that all the ante-mortem (before death) data of the Malaysian victims had been uploaded onto the Interpol database so the team based at The Hague could match the information with the post-mortem data gathered at Hilversum.
He said the data included fingerprints collected by the police as well as dental records of the 15 Malaysia Airlines crew onboard.
"We have also uploaded the DNA results of the victims' closest relatives. We took a total of 117 DNA samples which will be matched to 43 Malaysians and two more victims of Malaysian origin," he told reporters after arriving in the Netherlands on Wednesday.
Subramaniam said that in the case of three whole families who had perished in the MH17 tragedy, the DNA samples from the parents' relatives would be used to identify the parents.
Once the parents had been identified, he said their DNA results would be used to identify their children.
Subramaniam, along with Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin, will be accompanying Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on his working visit here to expedite securing safe and full access to the crash site for the international team of investigators.
"We will also tell the Netherlands that we can help in any way so the DVI process can be completed sooner. If need be, we still have more forensic experts in Malaysia that we can send over here," he said.
Noting the complexity of the DVI process, he said that there were body parts from different individuals in some of the body bags and that investigators would not be able to ascertain which were Malaysian victims until the whole process was completed.
He stressed that the investigation process must be done according to international standards so there would be sufficient evidence in the event the case was brought to international court.
Subramaniam said that in the event no match between some ante-mortem and post-mortem data was found, there were two possibilities.
"First, the remains do not belong to the MH17 passengers. Secondly, it could be that some of the remains have not been collected yet," he said, adding that investigators could not be sure until the process at Hilversum was 100 per cent completed.