Volume 48, Issue 3 (May 2003)
Investigation of Italy's Deadliest Building Collapse: Forensic Aspects of a Mass Disaster
We describe the investigation of the 1999 collapse of an apartment building in Foggia, Italy. Sixty-one victims were recovered in the rubble of the building, and five people were unaccounted for. All the bodies were well preserved except for two who had been burned. The majority of the victims were identified visually or by comparing body features, clothing, or personal effects with information collected from relatives or friends. Positive identifications of the two victims who were burned were obtained by dental comparison and DNA analysis. Approximately half of the victims (51.6%) sustained fatal injuires, while the remainder died from asphyxia. The injuries were characterized using the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) and the New Injury Severity Score (NISS) systems. Injury severity associated with the location of victims inside the apartment may provide useful information for those involved in building design and/or search and rescue operations. Engineers determined that the collapse was the result of the use of inappropriate foundation material.