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Rapid DNA Analysis to ID Boat Fire Victims

Officials are using rapid DNA testing to identify victims of the Santa Barbara boat fire, Fox News reports.

A diving boat caught fire off the coast of Santa Cruz Island, near the Ventura County coast, Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. Thirty-nine people were aboard the boat when the fire broke out, five of whom survived, it adds. The Coast Guard has recovered 33 bodies from the site, and one person remains missing, the Times reports.

According to Fox News, investigators are using rapid DNA testing to identify the bodies recovered to more quickly inform family and friends whether their loved one was among those who died. "Essentially, a sample such as a swab is placed in the machine and after two hours, a DNA profile is printed out," Mehul Anjaria, a forensic DNA specialist, tells Fox News. He adds that the technology is portable and does not require a trained lab environment.

Last year, rapid DNA analyzers from the firm ANDE were used to identify victims of the Camp Fire in northern California, and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation has sought to place these machines in police stations across the country so police can check if arrested individuals are in the agency's database. However, a Texas state board in June called on ANDE to stop its work there, unless conducted in an accredited forensic lab.