Identification and Determine the Cause of Death of Massive Deaths due to Ship Accident
The Bulletin of Legal Medicine,
Vol. 12 No. 2 (2007)
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.
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