Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital (TUTH) in Nepal has finished the autopsies of all 49 deceased passengers of US-Bangla Airlines Flight BS211, which crashed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on March 12.
Dhaka Medical College and Hospital’s (DMCH) Forensic Medicine Department Associate Professor Dr Sohel Mahmud, who is now in Nepal, said the procedures ended around 6pm on Friday.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh Ambassador to Nepal Mashfee Binte Shams said Nepalese authorities would begin the process of identifying the deceased on Saturday and it would take at least two more days to complete.
Addressing a media call at the embassy on Friday, she said: “Hopefully, the identification process will be complete by Sunday or Monday. The embalming process to preserve the identified bodies will hopefully be complete by Monday evening too.
“After that, we will try our best to send the bodies back home on Tuesday.”
Dr Sohel and several members of the Bangladeshi team of burn and forensic specialists and CID officials, which went to Nepal on Thursday to help Nepalese authorities in treating the injured and identifying deceased Bangladesh nationals quickly, were also present at Friday’s briefing and spoke to reporters.
At the briefing, Sohel said TUTH authorities would take care of preservation of bodies through the embalming process till they reach Bangladesh. “We have held meetings with them and visited the morgues to cooperate and check if everything was happening properly.”
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DMCH Forensic Medicine Department Associate Professor Dr Sohel Mahmud, along with Ambassador Mashfee Binte Shams, right, briefs reporters at the Bangladesh Embassy in Nepal on Friday, March 16, 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune
“The preliminary identification of bodies will be based on crosschecking information we have already received from families of the deceased. We will match faces, fingerprints, personal belongings and identification marks on bodies to identify them. Then the identified bodies will be sent for embalming,” he said.
“If this system fails to identify anyone, then we will go for DNA profiling,” he added. “But, hopefully, this will be complete by Monday.”
Carrying 71 people, including four cabin crew, the US-Bangla Airlines plane crashed at TIA in Kathmandu due to reasons yet to be determined. While the airliner held the airport’s Air Traffic Control tower responsible, the latter has blamed the pilot of the ill-fated flight.
Of the passengers, 36 were from Bangladesh, 33 from Nepal, and one each from China and the Maldives. And of the 49 deceased, 26 were Bangladeshis, 22 Nepalese, and one Chinese national.
Wait for the bodies of the loved ones
Although the injured passengers were being released one by one by the hospitals in Kathmandu, some of the survivors and their relatives are yet to complete the procedures and return home.
Till Friday, only eight of the deceased Bangladeshis were identified. But their relatives are yet to see the bodies and receive them.
This Dhaka Tribune correspondent spoke to several relatives of a number of crash victims.
Many of them declined to comment on the matter, saying: “We are waiting for the authorities to hand over the bodies. We want to return home as soon as possible.”
Basimah Saifullah, sister of deceased crew member Khaja Mohammad Shafi, said: “We are tired of waiting and we have nothing to say.
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Family members of the US-Bangla Airlines plane crash victims wait eagerly for any updates on their queries at Tribhuvan University Teaching Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal on March 16, 2018 Rajib Dhar/Dhaka Tribune
“We wanted to see the body first, but now we just want to return home after they hand over my brother’s body.”
She further said: “We urge that victims of this accident be given state funerals, and we get the correct body for burial.”
Till Friday, five of the 10 Bangladeshis were released from the hospitals.
Three of them – Mehedi Hasan, Saiyada Kamrunnahar Shwarna and Almun Nahar Annie – were brought to Dhaka from Kathmandu and admitted to DMCH’s burn unit on Friday.
On Thursday, another passenger with 5% burns on her body, Shahreen Ahmed, also arrived in Dhaka and was admitted to DMCH as well.
Earlier, Rezwanul Haque Shaon, who suffered 40% burns on his body, was sent to Singapore from Nepal for better treatment on Wednesday.
Relatives of two more victims arrive in Nepal
Meanwhile, one member from deceased passenger Pias Roy’s family and another from Bilkis Ara’s family have arrived in Nepal.
Pias's father Sukhendu Bikas Roy reached Nepal on Friday, according to Himadri Sarker, the victim's brother-in-law.
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Bilkis Ara and Pias Roy Collected
The Bangladesh Embassy in Nepal also confirmed that Bilkis’s brother and husband also reached Kathmandu around 12:40pm local time.
They were the only two families of the victims who arrived separately from the others taken to Nepal by US-Bangla Airlines.