On December 26th, 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami engulfed Thailand, leading to more than 200,000 deaths. As a major global tourism destination, many of those who died were foreign national tourists, posing a challenge for resource-strapped local officials to identify the victims.
On December 30th, BGI sent a DNA identification team to the tsunami-struck areas in Thailand and identified more than a thousand DNA samples of the tsunami victims. This was the first time that China sent DNA identification professionals overseas to support an international rescue mission.
The then Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra expressed his gratitude to BGI for the outstanding work in helping local efforts in this major disaster.