Following the Lagos-Ibadan expressway fire incident, the Lagos state government has commenced DNA Forensic studies to ensure that the right bodies are handed over to the appropriate families for proper burial.
The commissioner for health, Lagos state, Dr. Jide Idris who disclosed this at a press briefing said the DNA test entails obtaining samples from very close relations of the victims and matching these with samples taken from the charred remains.
For this to be done, Idris said, “We would be taking samples from relations in the order, mother/father of victim, child of victim, sibling of victim and uncle or aunt of victim. Relatives should kindly go to the Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre.
“The centre is open to collect DNA samples from 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday. At the same time our pathologist would commence the necessary autopsies on the victims starting from tomorrow.
“An estimate of about two to three weeks from the time the samples are received would be needed to complete the DNA process, result would be interpreted and bodies properly tagged. Thereafter, death certificates would be issued to the confirmed family members.”
Meanwhile, some of the deceased relatives have responded by availing themselves for DNA test. As at the time LEADERSHIP visited the Lagos state DNA and Forensic Centre, six families have visited the centre for their DNA test.
One of the relatives who spoke with LEADERSHIP in anonymity, said when he heard about the DNA test, he decided to come today (Tuesday) to identify his brother who was missing since the Otedola bridge incident.
As to why he felt his brother was among the victims, he said, “My brother work in Lagos and Otedola bridge, where the tanker exploded is his route to his office. That day of the incident, he didn’t come home. Up till now we are still looking for him. When I heard the news yesterday, I decided to come and check if he is among the victims.
“My prayer is that he should not be part of the victims, I am still hoping he will come home. But if he is part of them, well, I will accept my fate, but I won’t stop praying until the confirmation.”
In an exclusive interview with LEADERSHIP, the director, Lagos State DNA and Forensic Centre, Dr. Richard Somiari said about five families have already called and have scheduled appointments and they will be coming in today. He said one family already came yesterday, adding that about 12 bodies are needed to be identified.
Speaking on the procedure, Somiari said, “When family members come, we will take the reference and the pathologists would send us some biological materials from the remains, if we match it, then we will release the body to the family.”
Speaking on the time interval for the procedure, the director said, “It varies as it depends on the samples we are getting from the pathologists. Different bodies may have been burnt to different extent, but to generate profiles from the reference people which is the claim samples, that will take one to two days.
“So, the turn around time is going to depend on the materials we are going to get from the remains of the victims. But we expect that we will begin to get results by the end of next week because it is going to be a matching process.
“Getting samples from the reference is easy. The one we collected yesterday, we have already analyzed it. As relatives come, we will take their samples, and then analyze them, so that when we get the victims’ samples, then we will make the comparison, that one requires statistics and some careful comparison.”
In the same vein, the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority (LASEMA) General Manager Adeshina Tiamiyu, said, “Not everybody is required to go for the DNA samples. When the relations come, samples will be taken; from there, it will be cross-matched with samples taken from the victims.
“When these are matched, we will be able to determine who the bodies represent and after this, we will hand over to the families of the victims. All of these are done free of charge, both the treatment and DNA test. LASEMA had opened an Emergency Help Centre to counsel victims’ relatives.
It would be recalled that on Thursday, 28th June 2018 a tanker exploded at the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way by Otedola Link Bridge, claiming 12 lives as at Tuesday, July 3rd, 2018. Those who survived were taken to three hospitals namely; the Accident & Emergency Centre at the Toll Gate, the Trauma & Burns Centre, Gbagada General Hospital and the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) for prompt medical treatment.
A total of seven patients were received at the facilities, five of the victims, comprising four males and a female were taken to the Trauma & Burns Centre, Gbagada General Hospital with varying degrees of burns. One of the patients who had 90 per cent burns died. The remaining four victims who had burns ranging between 8 per cent to 48 per cent burns are stable and responding to treatment. An unknown number of survivors are also receiving treatment in some private hospitals
Additionally, two patients: a 48 year-old male who also presented with extensive burns and a 42 year-old male with soft tissue injuries were brought to the Burns and Plastic Unit, LASUTH. One of them has been discharged while the other person is stable and responding to treatment.