Identification of victims of the 1998 Taoyuan Airbus crash accident using DNA analysis

Int J Legal Med. 1999;113(1):43-6. doi: 10.1007/s004140050277.


In February 1998 a civilian aeroplane carrying 196 individuals crashed in Taiwan and killed another 6 people on the ground. Although there were dental and medical records, fingerprints, photographic evidence and personal effects to identify some of the victims, DNA analysis was required to further identify severely damaged remains. From the 202 people known to have perished in the plane crash, a total of 685 fragments of human remains were subjected to DNA analysis. The analysis was carried out using nine microsatellite loci, plus amelogenin to cluster the 685 fragments into 202 groups, accounting for all the victims. To establish genetic relatedness of the victims to other victims and living relatives, additional DNA loci were used. In this case the paternity index was increased by using HLA DQA1 plus Polymarker. The same 16 DNA loci were used to test blood samples from 201 relatives to establish parent/child and sibling relationships. With the exception of 19 victims identified by non-genetic evidence, 183 victims were successfully identified by DNA typing with relatively high values of paternity index by the direct or indirect comparison of relatives. The 202 victims were from 37 different families, ranging in size from 2 to 13 members and 74 individuals known to be unrelated to any other victim. The DNA from living relatives was used to identify one member of a family group, from which other victims of the family could be identified. ABO blood group information was further used to confirm genetic relatedness within families. A comparison of the DNA profiling results to the ABO blood group of the victims showed no discrepancies with the exception of two mutations in the FGA locus. In cases of severely damaged victims from a plane crash, DNA analysis proved to be the best choice to identify victims.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Aviation*
  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Amelogenin
  • Blood Grouping and Crossmatching
  • Child
  • DNA Fingerprinting / methods*
  • Dental Enamel Proteins / genetics
  • Female
  • Forensic Anthropology / methods*
  • Genotype
  • HLA-DQ Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-DQ alpha-Chains
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Paternity
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Taiwan


  • Amelogenin
  • Dental Enamel Proteins
  • HLA-DQ Antigens
  • HLA-DQ alpha-Chains
  • HLA-DQA1 antigen