13 Mahdia fire victims positively identified from DNA analysis

The content originally appeared on: INews Guyana

See below for a statement from the Ministry of Health on the identification of 13 Mahdia Fire victims from DNA tests conducted overseas: 

At 12.30 PM today (Friday, May 26, 2023), the Government of Guyana obtained DNA results matching the names of thirteen (13) bodies from the Mahdia fire tragedy who were not previously visually identified.

The GoG is in a position now to release these bodies to the relevant families for funeral arrangements.

DNA analyses were conducted on fourteen (14) bodies, the thirteen (13) bodies of girls from the Mahdia fire and one body of a boy child that died in the fire. These bodies were deemed to be visually unidentifiable. Samples from forensic specimens taken from thirteen bodies obtained by a specialist pathologist obtained through a bilateral arrangement between Guyana from Barbados and from one forensic specimen obtained from a young boy taken by Dr. Nehaul Singh, the Guyanese pathologist, were compared to DNA samples taken from parents and siblings.

The DNA analyses were conducted by the Pathology Laboratory of the internationally-recognized Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Dr. Carlos Cordon-Cardo, Professor and Systems Chair, and internationally renowned for DNA analyses, led a team of experts in conducting the analyses.

The Government of Guyana is grateful for the forensic examination and analyses that were done by a pathologist from Barbados, Dr. Shubhaker Karra Paul, who came to Guyana under the auspices of the RSS. The Government is also grateful to Dr. Nehaul Singh for completing the initial set of post-mortems in Mahdia.

The Government of Guyana expresses its gratitude to the Mount Sinai team that has been working with Guyana over the last year. The Mount Sinai team graciously and generously contributed their expertise to complete the DNA analyses in record time. The Government of Guyana is also grateful to the Hess Corporation for providing transportation to air-dash and rapidly transport the specimens and samples from Georgetown to New York.

Arrangements have been put in place by the Guyana Police Force for families to take possession of bodies when and where, in accordance with their wishes. The Government of Guyana is providing assistance and support to all families for funerals over the following days.

Our prayers are with the families.