Over 100 children and teenagers are among 702 Swedes confirmed missing after the tsunami catastrophe in Asia. But the police, who have taken over responsibility for tracing people who are unaccounted for, will not be making public the lists of names.
In a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, the national chief of police, Stefan Strömberg, said that the law on secrecy was clear.
“We must take into consideration the relatives of those who are on the list,” he said. “We therefore do not intend to go out with the list and that’s how it will stay.”
Strömberg explained that the decision was partly to prevent relatives being contacted by the media if such a list was made public. But another obstacle was the fact that police believe that there are still mistakes on the list, with names spelled incorrectly or duplicated.
“When we have quality checked the list we will announce how many people are still missing,” said Therese Mattson, head of the national criminal investigation agency, rikskriminalen.
There are still another 1201 Swedes whose whereabouts are unknown but who are thought to have been in the area when the tsunami struck.
For the first time the police were able to provide a more detailed breakdown of those confirmed missing. 28-30 are children under the age of 5. At least 100 are between the ages of 5 and 20.
560 are over the age of 20, of whom the majority are over the age of 50. 57% of those missing are men, compared to 43% women.
Almost all of these are in Thailand and Therese Mattson said that there are now 29 Swedish police officers in the country.
“We are constantly updating the lists we got from the foreign office,” she said.
According to Svenska Dagbladet the lists of names will be distributed among Sweden’s local police forces on Friday. Their job will be to collect details about the missing people which could be used by the identification teams in Thailand.
“I want to emphasise that the relatives who still haven’t had a visit from the police should just calmly wait,” said Therese Mattson. “The police will contact them.”
Meanwhile at 12.00 on Wednesday Sweden, along with the rest of the EU, stood silent to honour all the victims of the catastrophe. For three minutes trains stopped, parliament was silent and in town squares, shops and offices across the country people stood still.
In the Government Offices at Rosenbad ministers attended a short memorial service.
“Something we will never forget has happened,” said Prime Minister Göran Persson. “We have lost so many. Mother, father, our child, little sister. When someone is missing it is so empty, where there is uncertainty it is so cold.”