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Tests under way to see if bone is Holloway's

By the CNN Wire
Natalee Holloway has been missing since she disappeared in Aruba in 2005.
Natalee Holloway has been missing since she disappeared in Aruba in 2005.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: An initial test indicates the bone belongs to a young woman, prosecutor says
  • Authorities say definitive testing may take about a week
  • If the bone is human, DNA testing will be conducted
  • The jawbone was found near an Aruban hotel

(CNN) -- A jawbone found on an Aruban beach will undergo forensic testing to determine whether it is human and, if so, whether it belongs to Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway, last seen on the island in 2005, authorities said Tuesday.

Aruban prosecutor Peter Blanken said a part of the bone was sent to the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague, Netherlands.

It will be analyzed to determine whether it belongs to an animal or human, he said. If it is human, authorities will attempt to find out whether it belongs to Holloway.

"They are testing for a DNA match," said Blanken.

Investigators could know as early as Wednesday whether the bone belongs to an animal or a human, he added.

Inge Oevering, a spokeswoman for the forensic institute, said the length of testing will depend on the condition of the material, but it normally takes about a week.

The institute's findings will be sent back to the prosecutor's office, which will decide whether to make the results public, she said. Oevering declined to provide a description of the material.

Blanken said a part of a jawbone with a tooth was found on Friday by an American tourist near the Phoenix Hotel, a large resort on the western side of Aruba. He took it to the police, Blanken said.

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Contacted by CNN, the hotel referred questions to local authorities.

The Dutch paper De Telegraaf similarly reported Tuesday the jawbone was found near the Phoenix Hotel, a location that has been mentioned by Joran Van der Sloot, who was arrested twice in connection with Holloway's disappearance but has not been charged. He has maintained his innocence in her death.

The newspaper said a tourist couple found the bone on the beach and turned it in to the hotel clerk, who alerted authorities, offering a slightly different version of events than Blanken.

The prosecutor said the bone was initially examined by a forensic expert in Aruba, who determined the bone was from a young woman. But Blanken cautioned the final determination would be made by the forensic institute in the Netherlands.

"I'm happy that it's human. And the initial finding is that it's from a young woman, so maybe we will be able to solve this case. I hope so. But we will wait to see what the findings are," he said.

Holloway was 18 when she was last seen in the early hours of May 30, 2005, leaving an Oranjestad, Aruba, nightclub with van der Sloot and two other men. She was visiting the island with about 100 classmates to celebrate their graduation from Mountain Brook High School in suburban Birmingham, Alabama.

Van der Sloot, 23, is jailed in Lima, Peru, awaiting trial on a murder charge in the death of Peruvian student Stephany Flores. Her body was found in May in a hotel room registered to van der Sloot. The two were seen entering the room on a surveillance camera.

Van der Sloot is also charged with a count of wire fraud and a count of extortion in Alabama for allegedly attempting to extort more than $250,000 from Holloway's family in return for disclosing the location of her body.

CNN's Susan Candiotti, Laura Perez Maestro, Brian Walker and CNN Radio's Ninette Sosa contributed to this report.

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