On July 17, 2014 Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 enroute to Kuala Lumpur was shot down over the Ukraine. The plane had departed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol about three hours earlier. None of the 298 passengers survived. Because 193 of the passengers had Dutch nationality, the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) was soon involved and the largest identification project in Dutch history was started. The NFI already had experience in handling this type of DVI, four years earlier the institute identified the 104 victims of Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771 that crashed on approach to Tripoli Airport. Both identification efforts used Bonaparte in the process.

A lot of dna profiles were collected during the identification effort. Not only from the UHR′s but also from relatives so that, combined with the provided familial relationship from relative to the missing person, the appropriate pedigree trees could be constructed. The NFI received about

To ensure correct identification, a lot of the UHR profiles were generated in duplicate or triplicate, generating even more profiles. In Bonaparte about 190 projects were created, containing about 350 pedigree trees. The total identification work on the MH17 case took several months to complete. Most of this time was due to difficulties accessing the crash area, and multiple subsequent repatriation efforts. Unfortunately two of the victims are still unaccounted for at the time of writing, and another identification effort is underway. The other 296 victims were identified by DNA using Bonaparte by November 2014.

Given the number of profiles involved, manual processing and identification of the victims was impossible. Bonaparte has proven again to be an indespensible tool in this type of investigation at the Netherlands Forensic Institute.

The 2010 Tripoli Air Crash
8U771 Airbus
The plane involved in the accident.
Image © Konstantin von Wedelstaedt collection

On May 12th 2010, Afriqiyah Airways Flight 8U771 crashed on approach to Tripoli International Airport, Libya. The crash of the Airbus 330 claimed the lives of 103 people. Only one passenger survived the crash. The majority of the victims, 70 in all, were Dutch nationals. Among the victims were a number of blood-relatives. Five days after the crash, the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) was formally requested by both the Libyan authorities and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist with the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) process. Bonaparte DVI was used in the screening and matching process. This was the first time ever that Bonaparte was used, it had been approved for production use only a month before.

The NFI received:

In total the NFI received reference samples from (relatives of ) 84 missing persons. No reference samples pertaining to 19 of the 33 non-Dutch national missing persons were received.

The total identification work on the Tripoli case took about 26 days. These 26 days is the time between the arrival of the first sample and the generation of the last match report (e.g. the entire matching procedure).


In order to clarify the speedup that can be attained using Bonaparte, we compare the following two similar cases. The first case is an air crash in Suriname in 2008, where 19 people died. 10 of the victims were identified using DNA, the other 9 were identified by other means (dental or fingerprints). The second case is the Tripoli air crash as described above. The number of matches is about the square of the number of body(part)s that need to be identified.

Surinam crash
April 3rd, 2008, Blue Wing Airlines crash at Lawa Antino Airport, Benzdorp, Surinam.
Tripoli img
May 12th, 2010, Afriqiyah Airways crash at Tripoli Airport.
  • 19 victims
  • 10 identified using DNA
  • about 100 combinations: 2 days by hand
  • 103 victims
  • 84 identified using DNA
  • about 10,000 combinations: minutes using Bonaparte DVI

A relatively small accident with only 10 victims takes about two days to solve by hand. A case like the Tripoli air crash—with ′only′ about a hundred victims—is already undoable this way. There are too many combinations that need to be checked in order to identify all the victims. An automated identification system such as Bonaparte DVI is indispensible in cases like this. Aside from drastically shortening the time it takes for the identification process to be completed, it also reduces the risk of errors.

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January 15 2021, 15:09:36 / d0c9e73273e61aca7396ff47f5e1718587ab29df