After the Tsunami – HarnessingAustralian Expertise for Recovery The Human Face of Disaster Professor James Robertson National Manager Forensic & Technical Australian Federal Police
Australian Support to Tsunami disaster in Thailand • Thai authorities request assistance with disaster victim identification (DVI) process. • Chair of Australasian DVI Committee, FA Julian Slater, activates plan and Australian DVI group deployed on 29 December. • Australian Federal Police (AFP) coordinates the Australian assistance and deploys consumables in support of operation.
Australian Support to Tsunami disaster in Thailand (cont’d) • FA Karl Kent assumes role of Joint Chief of Staff (COS) answering to Police General Nopidol. • COS responsible for coordination of all international assistance. • During first three weeks over 30 countries deploy over 400 people to assist with DVI.
Australian Support to Tsunami disaster in Thailand (cont’d) • DVI process consists of five phases, scene, ante-mortem, post-mortem, reconciliation and repatriation. • First task confronting DVI teams at the various scenes is to prepare deceased for post-mortem examination and place bodies in refrigerated containers. • Forensic Major Incident Room (FMIR) stood up in Canberra. In initial weeks in order of 40 staff work in Thailand and an equal number in Canberra. • Role of missing persons units around Australia is critical in establishing an accurate list of missing persons and collection of ante-mortem material.
Australian Support to Tsunami disaster in Thailand (cont’d) • Working with DFAT list of possible missing persons is reduced from thousands to now 27. • 21 Australians have been identified and repatriated and grave concerns are held for a further 6. • The Thai Government estimate the total number of deceased to be 5,393. • There are likely to be many bodies which are never recovered and the DVI process will continue for many more months.
Australian Support to Tsunami disaster in Thailand (cont’d) • To date, over 100 Australians have contributed to the DVI effort. • This has included representatives from all States and Territories in Australia, from police and non-police organisations. • Included are forensic officers, specialist police DVI personnel, pathologists, odontologists, scientists, missing persons staff, family liaison officers, psychologists, counsellors and chaplains.