A body washed up on Terschelling is still identified after 66 years. DNA research has shown that the body is owned by Andries Penning, captain of the coastal operator Westland. The ship died on the night of the North Sea flood disaster in 1953.

The body of Penning washed ashore in 1953 on the beach in Terschelling, three months after the night of the flood disaster. Because the body could not be identified immediately, it was buried anonymously on the island.

After a visit to the Wreck Museum on Terschelling, where the wreck of the ship Westland is, the 69-year-old son of Penning reported to the police to donate DNA. In September the body of Penning could be identified on the basis of the donated DNA.

The coastal sailor Westland, the ship of which Penning was a captain, perished on the night of January 30, 1953, when it hit a violent storm. As a result of this storm, several ships in the North Sea perished, and eventually the dikes in Zeeland and South Holland broke, causing large parts of the southwestern Netherlands to be flooded. A total of 1863 people drowned during the flood disaster.


Flood disaster 66 years ago: the most impressive images

Identification investigation into unknown deaths

In 2018, police experts started an identification investigation into 28 unidentified persons who died in the flood disaster.

The research was re-established because the first and second generation survivors of the flood disaster, the group where the chance of a DNA match is greatest, are getting older. According to a forensic investigator with the Zeeland-West Brabant police, the investigation is "for many the last chance to find family".