News release

One Body From Swissair Crash Identified

Family members have been able to identify one body recovered from Swissair Flight 111. The first positive identification of a French national was made overnight at the chapel on Canadian Forces Base Shearwater.

Medical teams are on the air base to receive remains from HMCS Preserver, currently at the crash site off Peggy's Cove. Plans today call for a dive team to examine what may be a piece of fuselage.

Dr. John Butt, Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner, met with the medical teams again at this morning's briefing to discuss the daunting task of identification they are carrying out. Currently, four pathology teams are working through the day and two teams are working through the night.

Medical staff assembled at Shearwater include pathologists, forensic dentists and radiologists from across North America. They will be joined by others: Ontario's chief coroner, Dr. Jim Young, and another Ontario pathologist, and a forensic dentist from Moncton are due to arrive. They will also be assisted in the days ahead by other pathologists from Canada. Radiologists from the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and the Dartmouth General Hospital have already been working round the clock.

At this morning's meeting, Dr. Butt briefed the medical teams on the need to work swiftly yet carefully as more bodies and remains are recovered. He also thanked them on behalf of the families of the victims.

Last night, Dr. Butt met with about 300 family members and airline representatives at Halifax's Lord Nelson Hotel.

"I was consumed by their reaction. The people came and hugged me," he said of the victims' families. "The gratitude they expressed for the important and difficult work of the medical teams was overwhelming."

RCMP and Transportation Safety Board representatives, Swissair officials and Canadian Armed Forces personnel were part of the group that met the families in two separate meetings last night. RCMP officers and staff from the QEII collected blood samples from family members for DNA matching, and a 1-800 line has been set up to gather personal information from family members that might aid in identification.

Dr. Butt said the process of reaching positive, conclusive identification will be slowed by the unusual circumstances of the tragedy and he cautioned people to be patient. He noted that "damage was consistent with damage from impact, not damage from a blast."

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Contact:

Margaret Murphy
Cell: 902-499-8569
mxm                        Sept. 5, 1998                2:55 p.m.