Swissair Identification -- Status Report
Chief Medical Examiner
December 15, 1998 1:00 PM
Dr. John Butt, Nova Scotia's chief medical examiner, today
advised the families of victims of Swissair Flight 111 that the
recovery of human remains is essentially complete.
Families can now make arrangements to bring the remains of their
loved ones home, or put in place plans most suited to their
personal wishes. To date, 228 passengers have been positively
"We had originally anticipated identification would take several
months," said Dr. Butt. "Thanks to the professionalism,
dedication and commitment of all involved, we have reduced that
time-frame considerably. The DNA process has also allowed us to
unite remains whenever possible, and that process is now
About 1,500 DNA samples were processed through RCMP labs in
Regina, Ottawa, Vancouver and Halifax. The Centre for Forensic
Sciences in Ontario also provided assistance.
Dr. Butt also advised the families of an unfortunate occurrence
regarding 17 small pieces of dental remains. As part of the
effort to unite remains, further testing was being conducted on
the 17 pieces at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in
Halifax. The individual conducting the tests had arranged for
storage of the remains at the hospital. Unfortunately, the dental
remains were inadvertently discarded and subsequently
Preliminary tests conducted may allow identities to be placed
with 10 pieces. Families will be notified if and when an
identification is made. It will not possible to place identities
with seven of the dental pieces.
"This is a most regrettable occurrence," said Dr. Butt. "I am
deeply sorry for the distress this may cause and that I am the
one that must convey this. I know this is difficult news to
receive, but we felt it was important to advise the families of
the incident as quickly as possible.
"We also wanted to assure them that there are stringent measures
in place at Shearwater to safeguard the remains that are in our
The family contact lines continue to operate with the assistance
of RCMP personnel who have had continuous contact with family
members. Families have been advised they can provide their
instructions regarding their wishes early in the new year.
Contact: Michele McKinnon
Department of Justice
ngr Dec. 15, 1998 1:00 p.m.