Gardaí to help identify crash victims

GARDA forensic experts are to fly to Brazil to help identify the bodies of people who perished in the Air France plane disaster a week ago.

Both officers, who are from the Garda Technical Bureau, are experienced in disaster victim identification and they will support the authorities in the investigation and assist with the identification of bodies.

Aisling Butler, a 26-year-old native of Ballinakill in Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Jane Deasy, 27, from Rathgar in Dublin and Eithne Walls, 29, from Ballygowan, Co Down, were among the 228 people on board the aircraft when it plunged into the sea in unexplained circumstances, four hours into a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. Two non-Irish Aer Lingus staff also perished in the disaster.

The two experts, who have been deployed by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, are Detective Sergeant Jarlath Lennon and Detective Inspector Joseph Kinsella.

Det Insp Kinsella was previously deployed to Thailand following the tsunami in December 2004, where he assisted in the effort and helped locate missing Irish people. He helped them to find and repatriate their relatives.

He was also instrumental in establishing a fingerprint database to assist in the identification of the victims of the tsunami.

Speaking yesterday at the Garda College in Templemore, Commissioner Murphy extended his deepest sympathies to the Butler, Deasy and Walls families. He pledged to provide all assistance to the Brazilian authorities in order to identify the victims of the tragedy.

The Garda Commissioner stated: “My thoughts and sympathies have been with the families of Dr Aisling Butler, Dr Jane Deasy and Dr Eithne Walls, who were passengers on the Air France flight.

“My officers will travel to Rio de Janeiro in the coming days and use their experience and expertise to support the important task now under way in Brazil. One of these officers was involved in the investigation following the tsunami disaster in Thailand.”

A Garda spokesperson said yesterday that Garda Family Liaison Officers will continue to provide assistance to the families here in Ireland. On Wednesday a memorial service was held at Trinity College in Dublin for the three Irish doctors.

Search crews have now recovered 41 bodies from an area in the Atlantic.

The first 16 bodies recovered from the crash were flown on Wednesday to Brazil’s north-eastern city of Recife for identification. The bodies were taken to a local medical institute for forensic experts from various countries to begin the identification process. The identification of each body was expected to take an average of three hours.

So far, wreckage and the bodies have been found about 650km north-east of the Fernando de Noronha islands off Brazil’s northern coast, and about 70km from where air traffic controllers last had contact from the jet.

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