Kenya shopping mall attack: UK forensic teams lend expertise to search through Westgate rubble

Kenyan Red Cross warns the death toll of 67 still does not match its list of 71 missing people

Britain, the US and Israel are among the five nations sending their own forensic experts to help search the rubble of the Westgate shopping centre in Nairobi to find and identify the bodies of those killed.

The terrorist attack in Kenya left at least 67 people dead, including five British nationals, and it is feared that there are more bodies – described by Interior Minister Joseph Ole Lenku as an “insignificant” number – still to be found.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack which began last Saturday, Prime Minister David Cameron phoned the Kenyan authorities to offer any assistance that Britain could provide.

That offer was accepted, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with a team of forensic experts arriving in Nairobi on 23 September.

The key focus of their role is to work with the British High Commissioner and ascertain the full extent of the UK casualties in the attack. The number of British people reported to have been killed has already been revised a number of times, between a low of three and a high of six, and could yet rise again.

The experts will also help with the work coroners in the UK need to do in carrying out necessary inquests, but their role is not exclusively in a British capacity.

Involvement in response to a number of recent disasters across the world means that the UK has some of the most experienced investigative teams for dealing with this kind of incident.

Karen Squibb-Williams, director of communication and in-house counsel for the Forensic Science Society, told the BBC: “The experts who have been sent to Kenya will most probably be crime scene managers who are used to attending scenes of major homicides on a regular basis.

“In the wake of the experience of 9/11, and to some extent as a result of the 7/7 bombing in London, the UK has developed considerable skills in assisting with violent incidents.

“In particular we played an enormous part in helping with the aftermath of identification challenges after the tsunami.”

She said the UK police and forensic scientists working in tandem now have a “very strong capability” in what is known as disaster victim identification.

“This could include setting up temporary mortuaries and, if necessary accessing dental records as well as, where appropriate, having effective processes to access information efficiently,” she added.

“DNA analysis is also, of course, a forensic field in which the UK has a particularly strong reputation for capability and innovation.”

Part of the Westgate mall collapsed towards the end of the four-day siege following last Saturday's attack, burying bodies and slowing investigations, although experts have started work even while the army continues to comb the building for further explosives.

Officials say the death toll of 61 civilians, six members of the security forces and five militants is unlikely to rise much further, although some of the attackers’ bodies may still be buried.

However, the Red Cross has said there were still 71 people listed as missing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Trainer / IT Trainer

£30 to £32k : Guru Careers: We are seeking a Trainer / IT Trainer to join an a...

Recruitment Genius: Fence Installer - Commercial

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This privately owned Fencing Co...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £22,000

£17000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you answer yes, this company...

Recruitment Genius: Project / Account Manager and IT Support

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in Online Pro...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'