Volume 35, Issue 1 (January 1990)
Analysis of Carboxyhemoglobin and Cyanide in Blood from Victims of the Dupont Plaza Hotel Fire in Puerto Rico
Ninety-seven people died from a fire that occurred in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in Puerto Rico on 31 Dec. 1986. All, except four who died later in the hospital, were found dead at the scene. All of the fatalities at the hotel (except for eight) were burned beyond recognition. Blood from seventy-eight of the victims was screened for carboxyhemoglobin at the Institute for Forensic Sciences in Puerto Rico and was then sent to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland, for analysis of carboxyhemoglobin and cyanide concentrations. The blood data indicated that carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide, singly or combined, were probably not responsible for the majority of the deaths that occurred in the badly burned victims. On the other hand, the significantly higher carboxyhemoglobin in the nonburned victims indicated that carbon monoxide alone or combined with hydrogen cyanide probably played a major role in the cause of their deaths.