Mexico to check bodies' DNA in Australian surfers case

Forensic personnel inspect the burned down van on Nov 21, 2015, in which allegedly two Australian citizens were travelling through the Sinaloa state, near Novolato, Mexico.
Forensic personnel inspect the burned down van on Nov 21, 2015, in which allegedly two Australian citizens were travelling through the Sinaloa state, near Novolato, Mexico.PHOTO: AFP

MEXICO CITY (AFP) - The Mexican attorney general's office will test DNA from two burned bodies found in a van to check whether they are those of two missing Australian surfers, authorities said Tuesday.

The charred van belonging to Dean Lucas and Adam Coleman was found over the weekend in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, a Pacific coast region plagued by drug gang violence.

Two corpses were in the vehicle, raising fears about the fate of the two surfers.

"We have requested the collaboration of the attorney general's office and (DNA) samples from both bodies have been sent to get their genetic profiles," Marco Antonio Higuera, the chief prosecutor of Sinaloa state, told Radio Formula.

"Authorities in Australia are helping us to get the genetic profiles of their parents and the (DNA) will be compared here in Mexico," Higuera said.

Lucas and Coleman were last reported in the Sinaloa town of Topolobampo on November 20 after arriving there on a ferry from the Baja California peninsula.

The burned van with Canadian license plates was found some 225 kilometers (140 miles) south on a rural road in Navolato.

The state is home to the powerful Sinaloa drug cartel led by fugitive drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, who broke out of a maximum security prison in July.

While tens of thousands of Mexicans have been killed or gone missing in nearly a decade of drug violence, violent attacks on foreign tourists are less common.

In July 2014, the decomposing body of Franco-American Harry Devert was found with signs of strangulation in the southwestern state of Guerrero, six months after he went missing while crossing the country on a motorcycle. He had travelled from New York, hoping to reach Brazil for the World Cup.