Identification and Determine the Cause of Death of Massive Deaths due to Ship Accident

  • Hüseyin Çetin Ketenci
  • Taşkın Özdeş
  • Muhammed Ziya Kır Adli Tıp Kurumu Başkanlığı
  • Taner Güven
  • Mehmet Hakan Özdemir İstanbul Üniversitesi Cerrahpaşa Tıp Fakültesi Adli Tıp Anabilim Dalı
Keywords: identification, refugee, shipwreck, autopsy


Hundreds of refugees drown each year in the waters of the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea in their effort to reach the shores of the safer and more prosperous European countries. Autopsy has a significant role to identify the bodies in mass deaths such as shipwrecks. This study aims to demonstrate the difficulties during autopsy and identification process. Autopsy data and identification process in a refugee carrying shipwreck that submerged in September 2005 close to Cyprus were evaluated. Every personal belonging (clothes, accessories, cultural and religious symbols, etc) of seven males autopsied at Gazimagusa and Lefkosa Goverment Hospitals were noted in details. Organ and tissue samples were obtained for histologic, toxicologic and biologic evaluations. Identification process was difficult due to swelling or putrefying of the bodies. Furthermore, it was difficult to obtain accurate information from survivors due to language obstacles and the possibility of misleading information. We conclude that a ready made checklist and information about the locally available resources should be made beforehand in order to handle such events.

Key words: Identification, refugee, shipwreck, autopsy.


Download data is not yet available.


Drowning and injury prevention. Word Heath Organization. on_health/bathing/srwe2chap2.pdf Erişim tarihi: 05.04.2007)

Peden MM, McGee K. The epidemiology of drowning worldwide. Injury Control and Safety Promotion 2003;10(4):195-9

Fedakar R, Eren B, Türkmen N, Akan O. Gemi kazasına bağlı toplu suda boğulma olgularında kimlik tespiti. Adli Tıp Bülteni 2003;8(3)87-90.

Krinksholm B, Jakobsen J, Serjsen B, Gregersen M. Unidentified bodies/skulls found in Danish waters in the period 1992-1996. Forensic Sei Int 2001;123:150-8.

Borrman H, Taheri M, Woxberg B. 27 years of forensic odontology in Goteborg, Sweden. Swed Dent J 1993;17(6):249-53.

Soomer H, Ranta H, Penttila A. Identification of victims from the M/S Estonia. Int J Legal Med 2001;114:259-62

Davis JH. Bodies found in the water. An investigative approach. Am J Forens Med Pathol 1986;7:291-7.

Timperman J. Medico-legal problems in death by drowning: Its diagnosis by the diatom method. J Forensic Med 1969;16:45-75.

Hendey NI. The diagnostic value of diatoms in drowning. Med Sei Law 1973;13:23-34.

Peabody AJ. Diatoms and drowning-A review. Med Sei Law 1980;20:254-61.

Azparren JE, Vallejo G, Reyes E, Herranz A, Sanc- ho M. Study of diagnostic value of strontium, chloride, haemoglobin and diatoms in immersion cases. Forensic Sei Int 1998;91:123-132.

How to Cite
Ketenci H, Özdeş T, Kır M, Güven T, Özdemir M. Identification and Determine the Cause of Death of Massive Deaths due to Ship Accident. atb [Internet]. 1Aug.2007 [cited 21Aug.2018];12(2):68-2. Available from:
Research Articles

Most read articles by the same author(s)