Alain Remue is the head of the Missing Persons Unit of the Belgian police: “I can imagine some simply haven’t been able to contact friends or relatives. Still, as time progresses, more questions should be asked.”
Remue has headed the unit since 1995 and the Dutroux era, but says what we are experiencing today is unprecedented. Our search will be a systematic one. There is a large number of people from whom we have not received any sign of life.”
The police officer says the figure of unaccounted people should be put in context. It’s the result of information provided to the police and emergency services. Remue hopes to be able to work with a shortlist to allow targeted search operations. “Some people simply may have lost their mobile or be in hospital and unidentified.”
“The first phase was a rescue operation. Starting today we are embarking on a phase in which we search for bodies. We have to be honest.”
“Where will we find the bodies? We are interested in all locations visited by the waters. It’s an immense area: the provinces of Liege and Namur, part of Belgian Luxembourg.”
“Usually we dispatch aid abroad in situations like this. Today it’s the reverse. This is an enormous challenge, but there is magnificent co-operation and we have means and various services at our disposal. This being said it won’t be easy.”
54 people are still in hospital. In all 210 patients attended A&Es.