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Insufficient DNA halts tests on two Titanic dead
( 2001-05-20 14:36 ) (8 )

Two families who want to claim unidentified Titanic victims and put names on their gravestones were notified on Saturday that Canadian researchers have been unable to obtain enough DNA from the remains to analyze their kinship, a spokeswoman for the researchers said.

The two separate families, who believe they are related to victims known as passengers No.240 and No.281, were told that initial tests showed the DNA recovered from the two graves was insufficient to warrant continued testing.

Testing will continue on a third victim, known as passenger No.4, who is being sought by a third family. The three bodies are those of a woman in her 30s, a young man and a baby, but authorities have not said which description goes with which passenger number.

"Everyone knew from the start there might be an opportunity that a DNA analysis could not be made," said Nancy Angus, an official at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay. "The whole project was to help the victims' families get closure."

Researchers were hoping to identify all three of the mystery passengers using DNA technology nearly a century after they perished aboard the luxury liner Titanic.

The "unsinkable" Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the frigid North Atlantic waters off Canada's east coast on April 15, 1912, taking about 1,500 lives as it went down.

Despite a two-month recovery effort, most of the bodies were never found. Of those that were recovered, 150 were buried in cemeteries in the east coast city of Halifax. Forty-three of the passengers and crew laid to rest in Halifax have never been identified.

The (identification) project began three years ago when a clergyman approached Halifax authorities on behalf of a family who believed one of the graves contained a relative. The city denied their request to put a name on the headstone, saying their evidence was inconclusive.

The priest's pitch met a sympathetic response from Canadian scientists, who offered to conduct DNA tests on the remains.

The work extended to the other two graves when it was believed there was a chance of making an identification. The families involved have not been named.

"It's a disappointment for a lot of people involved. For No. 4 we hope that tests will be able to proceed," Angus said.

Angus said results on passenger No. 4 may not be known for six months. 



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