Monday 16 September 2019

DNA used to identify all 157 victims of Ethiopian Airlines crash, including Irish UN aid worker

Irishman Michael (Mick) Ryan, killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash was dedicated to helping the world’s most vulnerable (WFP/PA)
Irishman Michael (Mick) Ryan, killed in the Ethiopian Airlines plane crash was dedicated to helping the world’s most vulnerable (WFP/PA)
Luke Byrne

Luke Byrne

INTERPOL has identified every victim of the Ethiopian Airlines disaster that killed 157 people, including Irish UN aid worker Mick Ryan, earlier this year.

The international police agency said today DNA samples and fingerprints were used in the identification of the victims, from around 35 counties.

Every passenger and crew member died when ET301, from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, crashed near Bishoftu on March 10.

Father-of-two Mr Ryan from Lahinch, Co Clare, was among them.

He had been working with the United Nations world food programme.

The accident occurred just weeks before he was to relocate with his wife, Naoise, and their two young children from Ireland to Italy.

“The INTERPOL Incident Response Team (IRT) deployed following the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane in March has completed its task, assisting with the successful identification of all victims of the deadly disaster.

“At the request of the Ethiopian authorities, two days after the accident INTERPOL sent an IRT to assist with the operation,” a statement said.

It mobilised its global network of national central bureaus, centralising the collection of DNA materials from the families of the victims to aid in the identification process.

The DNA samples were sent to a specialised laboratory for analysis.

Nearly 100 experts from 14 countries in Africa, the Americas and Europe supported the work of the IRT during its 50-day mission.

Expertise from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) resulted in 48 of the victims being identified by their fingerprints.

“In the wake of such a tragedy, the accurate identification of the victims is of immense importance to the families who are suffering from their loss,” INTERPOL Secretary General, Jürgen Stock, said.

“International cooperation and coordination is vital to these efforts, and this is where INTERPOL’s extensive experience… provides significant added value to member countries when faced with a major disaster.”

After the tragedy, Mr Ryan was described as "a wonderful, compassionate man who lived for his job of helping others."

He had worked on various UN programmes across the world including high profile projects in both Africa and Asia. He was said to be especially proud of a project he had worked on for the UN in Bangladesh.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said he had the deepest sympathies for Mr Ryan's family, colleagues and friends.

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