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Charred bodies of road accident victims identified.

The bodies of the five Filipino expatriates who were burnt to death in a road accident near the Hamad International Airport on the Corniche-Wakrah highway on Monday have been identified.

It was earlier reported that the bodies were charred beyond recognition and DNA tests would have to be conducted to establish the identity of the victims.

Philippine Ambassador Crescente Relacion told Gulf Times yesterday that the deceased were identified through dental records and the jewellery they were wearing at the time of the accident such as wedding rings and some physical attributes.

However, Relacion said the bodies of Bencris Rivera, a 36-year-old engineer employed with Louie Berger construction, his wife Joycelyn Rivera (housewife), 38, and their one year-old son will still undergo forensic examination.

The other two victims, 24-year-old Joyce Geli and 27-year-old Marilou Cal, were vacationing nurses from Saudi Arabia and they were identified through the dental records provided by the Human Resources department of their employer in Riyadh. Geli and Cal were in Qatar on the invitation of their colleague Suzeth Rivera to spend the Eid holidays with her brother Benchris.

Suzeth, who worked in the same hospital as a secretary was the lone survivor of the ghastly accident.

The ambassador noted that DNA testing, which is available in Qatar, will only be used as part of the forensic test if other means of identifying the bodies are not available.

In the case of the two nurses, their dental records would be enough to determine their identities, he said.

"We'll leave the process of identification to the authorities. Besides, the forensic expert here will sign the documents of the report," said Relacion. "Our ATN (assistance to nationals) staff are at the Hamad morgue to help if there are problems in identifying the remains."

The embassy's ATN section handles non-labour related issues such as police and immigration, among others.

The Philippine embassy is now awaiting the results of the police investigation.

"For unnatural death, the repatriation of the remains will take place once the police/prosecution gives the green signal," he said. "The bodies will be repatriated despite being charred."

The ambassador earlier said the mission would recommend the hiring of a lawyer to handle the case saying the driver, who hit the victims' vehicle , should be prosecuted and penalised if criminally liable.

The families or close relatives of the victims are entitled to some benefits from the Philippine Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA), Social Security System and Home Development Mutual Fund.

The recent spate of fatal road accidents in the country has prompted people from different walks of life to stress the need for conducting traffic and road safety awareness campaigns at regular intervals.

Meanwhile, a report from Manila said government assistance was underway for the families of the Filipinos who were killed in the accident in Qatar.

GMA News quoted Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz as saying she has already instructed the OWWA to prepare the necessary assistance to the victims' families.

"The legal heirs of three of the five OFWs who were killed in a car accident near the Hamad International Airport in Doha, Qatar will receive P200,000 in death benefits because their deaths were caused by an accident," Baldoz said.

"In addition, they shall receive P20,000 in funeral expenses," she added.

Baldoz said three of the victims - an engineer and two nurses - were active OWWA members and thus their families are entitled to benefits.

She also assured families of the victims that the Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Doha has been co-ordinating with the Philippine Embassy for the swift repatriation of the victims' remains.

"We will provide the families of the victims appropriate repatriation assistance, including airport assistance when the remains of the victims arrive, as well as psycho-social counselling for the families, if necessary," Baldoz said.

Heirs of the victims will also be given livelihood assistance under the National Reintegration Programme for OFWs.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Geographic Code:7QATA
Date:Oct 10, 2014
Words:661
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