U.S. Citizens Who Are Presumed Missing or Dead
HHS Family Assistance Center Established
The U.S. Government is working to find all U.S. citizens who lost their lives in the earthquake in Haiti so they may be reunited with their families and brought to their final resting place in the United States. The magnitude of the loss of life from the earthquake has reached devastating levels and makes the process an unparalleled task.
A Health and Human Services Family Assistance Center (FAC) Team is working with the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Defense, and families of U.S. citizens to gather information that will help identify the remains of Americans who died in the earthquake.
The Family Assistance Center is staffed by professionals experienced in gathering data and interacting with grieving families, such as funeral directors and medical investigators as well as other professionals who can help in the collection of information, such as legal investigators, administrative staff and other specialists.
These professionals are trained to provide sensitive, confidential assistance. All information gathered by the HHS FAC team is held in the strictest confidence and used only for the purpose of identifying deceased and returning remains to the family.
The U.S. Department of State has established a list of U.S. citizens who are presumed dead or missing after the earthquake. The State Department will refer cases to the HHS Family Assistance Center. A HHS FAC team member then contacts families to set up a time for a phone interview to collect approximately 600 pieces of information about the missing family member, including vital statistics, physical description, doctors’ and dentists’ names, medical history including any dental work or joint replacement, and any unique characteristics such as tattoos, scars, and birthmarks. The interview process can take 2-3 hours. Families may also give permission for the HHS Family Assistance Center to obtain dental and medical records directly from health care providers.
Family members may be asked for detailed family histories to create the family trees and pedigrees that assist with kinship DNA analysis. Family members, such as parents, siblings or children, may also be asked to give a DNA sample, which is as simple as a cotton swab in the mouth, to help establish the identity of the deceased person.
Families who are missing loved ones are encouraged to call the State Department at 888-407-4747.
Families who have located their missing family members should call the State Department as well, to have the names removed from the list.