India train crash: Family hopes DNA test will help claim for body

India train crash: Family hopes DNA test will help claim for body
Mohammad Imam Ul Haq shows a picture of his deceased nephew, 12-year-old Tavseer Ansari, as other people were also trying to claim the same body after a multiple train collision in Balasore at a hospital in Bhubaneswar in the eastern state of Odisha, India on June 6.
PHOTO: Reuters

BHUBANESWAR, Odisha, India - Trawling the hospitals where victims of India's worst train accident in two decades were taken, Mohammed Imam Ul Haq found the body of one nephew on Tuesday (June 6), but the remains of what he thinks was a second nephew were also claimed by another family.

Four days after the disaster, Haq has found no trace of his brother, who was travelling with the boys. Haq believes his brother also died.

They were aboard the Coromandel Express, one of the three trains that collided in the Balasore district of the eastern state of Odisha on June 2. At least 288 people were killed in the crash, and 1,200 injured.

Identifying victims has been hard as well as traumatic, as the faces of many were disfigured and their bodies mutilated by the violence of the high speed crash.

Haq is convinced that he has found the remains of his 12-year-old nephew, but he says "there are five more claimants who are saying it is their relative."

"We are left with no option but to do a DNA test to determine whose body it is. The whole process takes really long," a distraught Haq told Reuters at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), one of the main hospitals in Odisha's capital of Bhubaneswar.

"I hope we can claim the body soon."

Haq has sent the body of one nephew back to the family home in the northern state of Bihar for burial there, and he wants to do the same for his brother and the other nephew.

As of late Tuesday, officials counted nearly a hundred unclaimed bodies lying in hospitals and mortuaries across Odisha, meaning many more families were facing a similar plight.

Authorities had taken DNA samples from all the dead bodies in hospitals across the state, senior police official Prateek Singh told reporters on Tuesday.

"In cases where there are multiple claimants, we have taken DNA samples from family members and we will preserve the bodies until the DNA matches," Singh told local media.

The trains had passengers from several states and officials from seven states - Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh - were in Balasore to help people claim the bodies of family members and take them home, Singh said.

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