(Received 8 March 2003; accepted 8 March 2003)
Published Online: 2003
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In 1982 and 1997 there were explosions of barley-containing silos in France, one in Metz (1982) and the other in Blaye (1997). There were a total of 25 victims, including 23 fatalities (12 in Metz and 11 in Blaye). In each case there was one survivor. This report is a retrospective study of 22 victims (11 at each site); all of them had multiple lesions due to the explosion and the immediate aftermath. The lesions demonstrated direct involvement of the blast effect associated with silo destruction, the heat from the explosion, the effects of toxic gases and asphyxia. The forensic pathologist is an important member of the emergency response team. This team has the responsibility for initially assessing the damage and for identifying the victims. The role of the forensic pathologist is therefore essential and they should be included in emergency planning to facilitate the initial assessment, shorten the time taken to identify the victims and improve safety procedures. Although dust explosions in agro-business plants are occurring more frequently, postmortem data are rare.
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