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DNA Was Collected in South Florida to Identify Victims

The emergency crews in South Florida to find victims pinned beneath mountains of concrete and demolished debris from a partially collapsed condo tower may resume for days or even weeks. Officials said Friday that DNA swabs were taken from family members of missing loved ones to help confirm identities.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on MSNBC that they have all offered their DNA for matching. There are photographs. And as soon as a person is identified through our victim advocates, through our medical examiner’s office, the first to be notified will be the next of kin. As of Friday afternoon, at least four people were confirmed dead in early Thursday’s disaster, Levine Cava said.

Nearly 159 people remain unaccounted for, although not all may have been home when a portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in the oceanfront community of Surfside imploded. The reason for the destruction is still being determined. Forensic experts say the nature of the catastrophe and that it didn’t involve an explosion or fire should make examining the recovered bodies easier.

Robert Allen, a professor of forensic sciences at Oklahoma State University’s Center for Health Sciences, said that although the deceased will have suffered extensive injuries, their bodies would presumably be identifiable.Allen said that during 9/11, in which human remains are still being identified nearly 20 years later, you had intense heat, intense pressure that dramatically accelerated the decomposition of the biological materials. In this case, the DNA will be fully intact. Soft tissue, which makes visual identification and fingerprinting possible, can decompose, especially when exposed to the high heat and humidity of South Florida.

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