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Identifying those killed in Toronto van attack could take days, coroner says

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ABOVE: Dr. Dirk Huyer, Chief Coroner for Ontario, explained to reporters Tuesday afternoon the difficulty in positively identifying the ten victims of Monday's deadly van attack in the north of the city – Apr 24, 2018

It could take days to confirm the identities of 10 people killed in a van attack in northern Toronto that left 14 others injured, Ontario’s chief coroner said as a forensics team sought records and information to assist in the grim task.

The number of fatalities and the circumstances of the incident makes it challenging to quickly identify those who died, and the coroner’s office is being particularly careful to avoid any possible confusion, Dr. Dirk Huyer said.

READ MORE: These are the victims of the Toronto van attack

The Monday afternoon rampage “occurred in a very busy pedestrian area and it occurred over a significant distance,” he said in a news conference Tuesday.

“Most of the time people have identification on them and that gives us the first information as to who that person may be. So from that information, we then reach out to family members and we have done that,” he said.

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WATCH: Anne Marie D’Amico identified as first of 10 victims in Toronto van attack

Click to play video 'Anne Marie D’Amico identified as first of 10 victims in Toronto van attack' Anne Marie D’Amico identified as first of 10 victims in Toronto van attack
Anne Marie D’Amico identified as first of 10 victims in Toronto van attack – Apr 24, 2018

“We’ve asked them to help us to develop a method to scientifically confirm those identifications and those confirmations will be through dental X-ray comparison, potentially fingerprint comparison or, if necessary, DNA comparison. So we are actively obtaining records.”

Visual identification is not sufficient since people look different when they have died, and especially when they suffered serious injuries, he said.

READ MORE: Hundreds gather at Toronto van attack memorial

When asked if the coroner’s office was lacking the necessary resources to complete the work quickly, Huyer said additional help had been called in and arrived Monday.

“Frankly, it takes time to get records and it takes time to meet families and that’s not a resource issue,” he said.

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Alek Minassian, a 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was charged on Tuesday with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder.