Day 21: Dealing with Dead Bodies in Mass Fatality Events

Dutch Investigators Finally Gain Access to MH17 Remains
Caroline Bankoff, Daily Intelligencer (July 21, 2014)

Last week’s shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in the Ukraine has become a rolling demonstration of what’s not supposed to happen after a mass fatality event involving dozens of dead bodies.

For various reasons, I’ve participated in mass fatality response workshops so watching what is clearly a crime scene go uninvestigated by professionals is maddening.

At a minimum, there should be portable mortuaries/morgues up on the site. An international cohort of pathology technicians, forensic investigators, law enforcement officials, dental experts, sniffer dog teams, general support crews, and even funeral directors should be on hand for Disaster Victim Identification or DVI.

These are only some of the groups I would expect. There would actually be more and the whole operation would need a central command.

All of this is to say, that what’s happened in the Ukraine has become a textbook example of worst case scenarios.

The whole situation has also reminded me of previous Death Ref stories on the different kind of mass fatality responses in both Haiti and Japan. You can read those posts here.

I’ll update Death Ref with any relevant information I see on MH17.

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