DNA results back: 13 remaining Mahdia fire victims identified; Hess oil company, Mount Sinai thanked for assisting

Last Updated on Friday, 26 May 2023, 17:17 by Denis Chabrol

The unrecognised burnt remains of the remaining 13 children are now positively identified based on the results of DNA tests that were returned from the United States (US) earlier Friday,  according to Health Minister Dr Frank Anthony.

” The Government of Guyana is in a position now to release these bodies to the families of the deceased for funeral arrangements,” he said. adding that the results were brought back to Guyana at 12:30 Friday afternoon.

He said 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, he said.

Co-venturer in the Stabroek Block, American oil corporation, Hess, was credited for its role in shuttling the samples to the US for DNA analyses by the Pathology Laboratory of the internationally-recognised 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, Dr Anthony said. “The Government of Guyana is also grateful to the Hess Corporation for providing transportation to air-dash and rapidly transporting the specimens and samples from Georgetown to New York,” he added.

Hess is financing a multi-million US dollar project, in collaboration with the Guyana government, to modernise and integrate the public and private sector health care systems by Mount Sinai experts.

“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,” he added.

Health Minister Anthony said DNA analyses were conducted on 14 bodies, the 13 bodies of  girls from the Mahdia fire and one body of a boy child,  who died in the fire as well.

He said the samples from the forensic specimens were obtained from thirteen bodies by a Specialist Pathologist through a bilateral arrangement between Guyana from Barbados while another forensic specimen was obtained from a young boy and was taken by Guyanese Pathologist, Dr Nehaul Singh. These specimens (obtained) were compared to DNA samples taken from parents and siblings, he said.

The Government of Guyana, he said, was 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 Caribbean Regional Security System. Dr Anthony said the Guyana government was also grateful to Dr  Singh for completing the initial set of post-mortems in Mahdia.