Hyderabad, Oct. 31: The patience of many grieving relatives of yesterday’s Volvo bus accident victims was tested today after they learnt they must wait at least a week to get the bodies.
Some 42 of the 45 bodies need DNA tests to be identified because they are charred beyond recognition, authorities said. They added that the Andhra Pradesh Forensic Science Laboratory here had promised to complete the process in a week although it usually takes three weeks.
However, frustrated and exhausted relatives, standing in queue at the laboratory to donate blood for the DNA tests, argued with security personnel and police.
Many of them claimed to have identified their loved ones from their belongings — a claim the authorities have refused to accept barring three cases — and demanded the remains be handed over immediately.
Several agitated relatives threatened to commit suicide if they didn’t get the bodies by Friday. Some of them voiced a litany of complaints.
“We had not been told to bring photographs to prove our relations with the deceased. Now they are demanding photos after we have spent a long time standing in queue,” said a relative of Farooq Ali, 24, one of the dead.
He kept arguing with the police, saying Farooq’s parents had not eaten since Wednesday morning and were in no position to wait further.
Asked why photos were needed when the bodies could not be identified by face, lab officials merely cited red tape.
Archana, sister of Karnataka Mega Chiranjeevi Fans Association president Kotte Venkatesh Yadav, who died in the accident, appeared at the end of her tether.
“We have identified Venkatesh’s body but the police are insisting on blood samples for DNA profiling,” Archana said.
“We were first asked to come to the Osmania Hospital mortuary (where the bodies have been kept). When we went there, they asked us to go to the forensic laboratory to give blood samples. My parents are still standing in queue.”
Venkatesh, a Bangalore resident, was coming to Hyderabad on the bus, run by Jabbar Travels, to invite guests to his sister’s wedding.
Chandrasekhar Reddy, a district official from Mahbubnagar where the accident took place on Wednesday morning, was coordinating the proceedings at the forensic laboratory.
Speaking from behind the lab’s closed iron shutters, he said samples had been collected from the relatives of 39 of the victims and the government was waiting for the families of the remaining three to donate blood samples.
He said that bodies of three victims had been handed over to their relatives, who had provided “solid proof” of identity such as ornaments or clothing.
However, some of the relatives of the other dead —whose belonging-based “proofs” of identity had not been accepted — alleged the authorities had made an exception in three cases because these victims’ families were influential.
The Telegraph had yesterday reported that the family of Priyanka, a newly married software engineer, had identified her from her gold bangles.
Reddy, the Mahbubnagar official, said: “The process of DNA-matching generally takes three weeks but the state government has persuaded the lab director to promise to do it in a week.”
He said receipts had been issued to the families of the dead and they would be informed about the result by phone.
“We will transport the bodies to their native places without charging for anything, not even the casket,” Reddy said.
He allayed fears that the bodies could decompose in a week.
“They have been stored in freezers. The personal belongings of the dead, collected from the accident site, have been kept for identification at the lab.”