Relying on exact DNA science to identify the fire’s victims could lead to years of cruel uncertainty. We should learn from other disasters, trying new approaches
Ten weeks on from the Grenfell fire, 58 victims of its victims have been formally identified. But the number who died is thought to number at least 80, and could be many more. Some families who lost their loved ones face a wait of months, perhaps even years, to know with absolute certainty what happened to them.
As someone who has studied the implications of DNA technology on a community’s ability to recover from disasters such as explosive forces and fires, I’ve seen first-hand how the science can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it enables the reliable identification of victims in a tragedy like Grenfell. On the other, the long wait for certainty can leave families in limbo for years.