The use of mitochondrial DNA and short tandem repeat typing in the identification of air crash victims

William Goodwin, Adrian Linacre, Peter Vanezis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


In February 1998, a civilian air plane crashed into a remote mountainside in the Philippines, killing all 104 passengers and crew. The victims were subjected to severe environmental insult, preventing conventional identification methods in most cases. As part of the identification process, samples were subjected to a combination of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and short tandem repeat (STR) DNA profiling. The DNA extracted from the victims' remains was in all cases highly degraded. However, profiling using mtDNA was still successful with 95% of the victims' samples; this compared to a 50% success rate using three STR loci. The use of mtDNA and STR profiling enabled 187 human fragments from the crash site to be placed into 80 distinct groups; when combined with postmortem data, the samples could be further separated into 95 distinct groups, thereby assisting in the identification process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1707-1711
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Disaster victim identification
  • Human identification
  • Mass disaster
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Short tandem repeat

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