This photo shows some of the destruction caused by the December 2004 Asian tsunami.

Global Database Being Developed for Use in Disasters

INTERPOL is working with five European partners to create FASTID, which became a priority after the Asian tsunami on Dec. 26, 2004, killed at least 227,000 people.

INTERPOL, the worldwide police agency based in France, is spearheading a project named FASTID -- FAST and efficient international disaster victim Identification -- to help authorities speed up identification of multiple victims or missing persons following a disaster. INTERPOL announced July 30 that experts from the German Federal Criminal Police Bundeskriminalamt, the IOSB and IGD Institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Germany, the Danish company PlassData, the University of Dundee, and Crabbe Consulting Ltd, with co-funding from the European Union's seventh framework program, are working on it.

It came about after the Dec. 26, 2004, Asian tsunami killed at least 227,000 people, most of them in Indonesia. The INTERPOL General Assembly adopted a resolution in September 2005 saying a centralized database to aid in identifying and linking missing persons and/or unidentified bodies was needed. FASTID was launched April 1, 2010, with a budget of almost 3 million euros.

The agency's account says the database is based on INTERPOL tools, including its Disaster Victim Identification protocols, Yellow Notices for missing persons, and Black Notices seeking information on unidentified bodies.

"After a major tragedy, such as the Asian tsunami, it is vital that with so many countries involved either in terms of victims or first responders, that there are standardized and recognized procedures to ensure the fast and efficient identification of victims so that they can be repatriated as quickly as possible," said Peter Ambs, INTERPOL's FASTID project leader. "The combined elements of this database and its accessibility to law enforcement across the world via INTERPOL's global network will help meet the needs of both day-to-day policing and for those responding to disasters, where and when required."

No such centralized police database currently exists, either regionally or globally, according to the organization.

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