Forensics: How to ID the Bodies

The forensic science of processing and identifying the dead

Ria Ekkelkamp, a middle-A MIDDLE-aged Dutch woman, has a gap between her two front teeth. Norwegian toddler Ragnar Bang Ericsson has a small triangular birthmark on his lower back. Jacobo Hassan, a Mexican man, has an Ishaped scar below his right knee. Chie Machida, a Japanese woman, wears a pink-jeweled navel ring.

Emblems of individuality in life, those distinguishing characteristics have become crucial clues in determining whether loved ones missing since the waves hit are among the dead. Across Asia, massive numbers of bodies remain unidentified. So while relief agencies descend on the disaster areas to rush aid to survivors, forensic...

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