Quentin Sommerville, Barbara Sampson, Beirut discussed on BBC Newshour
To do whatever it takes for as long as it takes and as the science improves, and we are able to use improved techniques to extract and analyze the DNA that is available to us from these remnants that we go back to them, and we continue to try to make a new identification. Of course. In the beginning, the process was much more rapid because The specimens were easier to work with, at this point where working with fragments of bone, some of them very, very small the size of a tick tack. But the power of DNA is that the only need a little bit to make an identification. The DNA, though, does need to be intact and the conditions down at ground zero that day on 9 11, and in the months and years after that, Were absolutely the worst that could be imagined for maintaining the integrity of DNA. There were, of course, the explosion the fire the fuel from the Jets, the water from firemen trying to put out the fires. All that degrades DNA, as does the passage of time. So we were faced with specimens that you know are in. You know, previous times, it would be unheard of to get any kind of DNA from them. But you know, we continue our efforts. And now technology is so much better that we can get identifications from even smaller, more degraded fragments of DNA, and that's what we're working with now. Better extraction techniques. And then better techniques that analyzed. Yes, I mean, for Lay people listening. Can you explain a bit about what those advances have been? Sure at the beginning we were trying to extract DNA from all the specimens and bone in particular is very difficult to extract DNA from and over the years we've developed improved techniques in order to get more DNA out of even smaller pieces of bone and get out more efficiently. So that's what we have been working with over, especially over the last few years in the fall. Now we are going to be starting to use a new technique called Next Generation Sequencing, which will it's an even more sensitive techniques so that we will be able to generate DNA profiles from even smaller fragments of DNA. And this kind of technique has been used by others, Uh, in remains, for example, from various wars and those kinds of situations where the DNA is also very degraded. So we are hopeful. That this more sensitive technique will in the future. Allow for more identification. What does it mean for the families who know that their loved ones? Have been lost and have known it for many years to actually get the phone call to hear that there has been a and identification made. So let me start by saying that we know the wishes of every family. Some families do still want to know if we make an identification, and some families have chosen not to hear from us. And families cannot course change their mind about that. You know, as years go by, as new generations of family members are making these decisions, and a family can always reach out to us on their time schedule. And ask if there have been any update, given that the families who do want to know which is the majority are extremely grateful for our continuing efforts, and the times that we have been able to make these identification even so many years later. Are some of the most rewarding tons of my career to sit with families and to tell them fat. Finally, we have found something of their loved one. And I've had numerous families say to me that you know, I really thought I was going to die. Without knowing for sure that mine son, for example, was was killed that day without knowing for sure without a scientific identification. And the relief in the voices and on their faces of having a little bit of their loved one to either, you know, bury or happen, remain in the repository down at ground zero. I can't say it gives them closure, but it makes them feel a little bit little bit better. I was Dr Barbara Sampson, the chief medical examiner of New York City. Lebanon may have just announced a new government more than a year after the previous administration quit following the Beirut port explosion, But it remains in an economic crisis. Some people are experiencing power cuts of 20 hours a day while motorists queued for hours to fill that petrol tanks. The British Embassy in Beirut has repatriated diplomats because of the fuel shortage and hospitals have cut back on essential services from Lebanon. Our Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville, sent this report. Okay, okay. But in Lebanon's southern city of Sidon, it's as dark as a tool. There's barely been electricity for a week and the city's all passageways, locals use phone lights that cut through the gloom. With no fuel. Even generators have stopped working. They are surrounded by candlelight is Hassan Horseshoe. 98, then news I think medication for chronic disease. I was told we can get it in Beirut, but for double the price and still couldn't get it. We can't even find cough, medicine and Panadol. Everything is running short. The currency is now worthless and most people savings have disappeared in the financial crisis last week, Bread was in short supply. This week. It's bottled water. Ali. Chama is another side and resident lived that we don't have a statement all this man in the presidential palace Should be burned and alcohol. Is this alive? I had to go back for two packs of bread, one for me and one for my daughter, and it's not cheap to assist the other. Holding has become commonplace at a petrol station inside and confrontation between the army and locals. Things are so desperate troops have been deployed at petrol stations across the country become.