DNA profiling helped identify airmen killed in 2 crashes, 7000 samples stored

Over 7000 DNA samples of armed forces personnel who are considerably “at the highest risk of death”, have been collected. They are stored at the DNA profiling centre in the Armed Forces Medical College, Pune. This initiative is a part of the Armed Forces Medical Services project. The project aims to develop a repository of DNA samples of 11,30,000 personnel. This kind of information had helped the armed forces in identifying personnel in two separate air crashes. The air crash took place on May 23, 2017.

According to the Indian Express, Lieutenant General Bipin Puri, Director General, Armed Forces Medical Services, “The remains recovered from the crash site included a shoe with an identity tag, a wallet with credit and debit cards, and a portion of the left hand. DNA samples of both pilots had been preserved at the repository at Armed Forces Medical College.”

In another incident that took place in July 2017, the identity of three members of the crew was established. An ALH MK II Helicopter had crashed during a flood relief project. The identity of the members could be established because their DNA samples were preserved.

As per officials, DNA profiling of body parts is the only scientific method that can help in identifying the deceased. Comparing personal belongings, identification marks, photographs do not always give authentic results. Especially in the cases of extensive mutilation and disfigurement of the body.

As of now, training has been provided to 170 medical officers as part of the exercise. According to the plans, 625 profiles will be generated till October, 2018.