Human remains in dozens of boxes given to the US by North Korea are “consistent with being Americans”, a US scientist has said.
John Byrd, director of the laboratory working on identifying the remains, made the comments based on initial examination but said they could not quickly be identified.
Mr Byrd also noted it was too early to determine the number of people the remains amounted to, with US officials cautioning that little was known about the contents of the returned boxes.
“What we saw were remains that were consistent with what we have found from the Korean War recoveries that we’ve done over the years, and we found remains that were consistent with being Americans,” he said.
Mr Byrd added that among the items shipped from North Korea was a single military tag; that person’s family has been notified.
The US scientist explained that the remains were “good candidates to be missing Americans from the Korean War.”
The 55 boxes were transported to a laboratory in Hawaii after arriving on US soil. Mike Pence participated in the ceremony held for the remains of service members who are killed in war.
“Some have called the Korean War the ‘forgotten war’,” he wrote on Twitter. “But yesterday, we proved these heroes were never forgotten… May God bless the memory of our fallen and their families.”
Chuck Prichard, director of public affairs for the Defense POW/MIA Personnel Accounting Agency, recently told Reuters that the identification process could in some cases take years.
“Problems such as inability to get DNA from bones and lack of a DNA reference sample from the family can be major stumbling blocks,” Mr Prichard said.
Mr Trump thanked North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for turning over the remains in a tweet, writing: “Thank you to Chairman Kim Jong Un for keeping your word [and] starting the process of sending home the remains of our great and beloved missing fallen!”
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