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Home >> World
UPDATED: 18:00, December 25, 2006
Western countries question Thai tsunami victims identification process
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Seven Western countries recently submitted a joint complaint to Thai police chief, urging the completion of Thai tsunami victims identification process and demanding an audit on donated funds for that purpose allegedly misused, a report said Monday.

The Bangkok-based English-language newspaper The Nation on Monday released a letter dated on November 22, jointly signed by ambassadors of Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States and charge d'affairs of France in Thailand.

Addressed to Royal Thai Police Commissioner-general Kowit Watana, the letter noted that over 400 recovered bodies remain unidentified, while bodies of over 400 missing victims have not been located.

"Without any additional new information or discoveries of further bodies (now very unlikely), these last remaining bodies and missing people are sadly unlikely to be reconciled," said the letter.

It said that during the first 10 days after the tsunami struck and before the formal Thai Disaster Victim Identification (TDVI) Center was established, some 2,000 bodies were released to the relatives, among which, the diplomats believed, were some misidentified bodies.

The diplomats thus urged the Thailand to complete the allegedly much-delayed analysis of the DNA samples taken from those bodies by Tuesday, the second anniversary of the tsunami, in order to correct misidentifications or help identify the remaining bodies.

The TDVI was established by the international community in January 2005 to conduct identification of the victims from the Dec. 26, 2004 tsunami. At one point there were at least 600 officials from Thailand and 30 other countries to help identify the victims.

The letter also raised a sensitive issue concerning the suspected misuse of funds donated by citizens of the seven countries to support the identification work.

It requested an professional audit on the related funds by "a reputable and qualified private accountancy company" covering the period from January 2005 until present to clear up the suspicions.

The letter said that the U.S. government had agreed to cover the costs of the audit using funds available in the cooperative agreement with the TDVI.

The Nation quoted anonymous sources as saying that citizens of the seven countries have contributed about 60 million baht (1.67 million U.S. dollars) for Thai victim identification work after the Indian Ocean tsunami killed over 5,000 people in Thailand's southern coast areas.

According to the report, the sources said more than 60 percent of the funds were wasted and disguised as travelling and other miscellaneous costs.

The diplomats said that a copy of the letter would also be submitted to Thai Foreign Minister Nitya Phibulsonggram.

Source: Xinhua

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