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India: attacks on Mumbai

01-12-2008 Interview

In the aftermath of the attacks in Mumbai, dozens of families are anxious about the fate of their relatives. The ICRC's Dusan Vujasanin spent a few days in Mumbai's hospitals and its morgue, helping family members trace their loved ones.

   

   
 
  Dusan Vujasanin    
     How was the assistance organized during the attacks in Mumbai?  

The Mumbai branch of the Indian Red Cross reacted very quickly to the attacks by evacuating the wounded, tr ansferring human remains to the morgue, supplying hospitals with blood, helping the injured to contact their families and setting up helplines for families looking for their relatives among the victims.

Red Cross volunteers worked round the clock; they were overwhelmed by the task at hand. Family members were desperately looking for information about missing loved ones. When I arrived in Mumbai, there were many unidentified bodies. The ICRC’s expertise in tracing and in handling human remains was invaluable.

   
©Reuters    
 
The family of a victim of the attacks on Mumbai.    
     

 What did you do while there?  

I worked in cooperation with the main hospital's pathologist, helping families identify the bodies of their relatives. At the same time we sought to find out what had happened to people who could not be accounted for.

Basic information about the missi ng person, such as their sex, height, age, physical traits and a description of personal belongings, was collected from the families. With the pathologist, we compared the information with that concerning bodies that were awaiting identification.

Once human remains were identified, our role was to locate the families concerned so that we could inform them about the fate of their relative. We did this tracing via our network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies and through the relevant embassies.

Last but not least, the ICRC supported hospitals in the handling of the human remains by providing them with 200 body bags.

 What should one do if they are looking for a family member among the victims?  

Family members can contact the Indian Red Cross, Mumbai Branch, on its helpline (++91 22 65 23 58 30). Photographs of the victims can be sent to