By Yas D. Ocampo
DAVAO CITY – Nine of the bodies found at the burned down NCCC Mall have been identified with the help of the victim’s relatives after hours of testing and identification procedures, social workers said.
However, the City Social Services and Development Office (CSSDO) is still waiting for the green light to release their names.
While most of the 36 victims come from Davao City, some of them come from as far as Lucena, while others come from neighboring Tagum and Panabo in Davao del Norte, and Digos City, Davao del Sur. There is also a victim who came from Mawab, Compostela Valley.
The identity of the victim found at the second floor of the mall on Sunday, has also been determined.
Separate teams of social workers have taken shifts at the Southern Philippines Medical Center, where grieving relatives await the remains of their loved ones.
At the waiting room, social workers would approach each of the victims’ kin to provide them support including food.
Families are divided according to the gender of their missing relative.
At the female side of the room, a large teddy bear is waiting for its owner’s warm embrace.
As each family’s representative was called to the laboratory, they return either wailing having confirmed with finality the death of their relative or disappointed and nervous in case of a false alarm.
The process is not without complication.
At least one body is being claimed by five families, all of whom told social workers about their missing loved one wearing a heart-shaped pendant.
“Several of the bodies match that description,” one of the social workers said.
Volunteers from the Ateneo de Davao University’s Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (COPERS) are on site to provide psychological assistance to the bereaved.
“We had one case of extreme survivor’s guilt,” one of the volunteers said. “She made it out, while her relative didn’t.”
Reporters also heard of at least one victim who decided to work the day the fire broke out to take advantage of the holiday pay.
In the next few days, the COPERS will also be providing debriefings for first responders at the site.
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