Evaluation of the deaths secondary to entrapment under the debris in the Van earthquake

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Introduction: An earthquake occurred on October 23, 2011 at 13:41 in the Van city of Turkey. According to the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, the magnitude of this earthquake was measured as 7.2 on the Richter scale. The earthquake caused deaths and injuries due to entrapment under the debris. This study has been planned in order to evaluate the features of these deaths and to discuss the obtained data comparatively with the literature. Materials and methods: External examination of the corpses and autopsy reports drawn up for Van Attorney Generalship in the city center were evaluated retrospectively. Results: Totally 51 deaths secondary to the entrapment under the debris were analyzed. Twenty-seven cases (52.9%) were females and 24 cases (47.1%) were males. All the deaths occurred in houses or workplaces. The causes of deaths were as follows: head trauma together with visceral organ laceration in 30 cases (58.8%), mechanic asphyxia in 14 cases (27.5%) and the crush syndrome in seven cases (13.7%). Deaths due to the crush syndrome occurred after victims' were rescued alive after having been under the debris. Conclusion: Traumatic findings are usually generalized and extensive in deaths related with earthquakes. Multiple fractures of cranial bones, ribs, extremities and injuries of visceral organs and major vessels are determined in the external examination. On the other hand, forensic pathologists should not disregard the diagnosis of the crush syndrome in traumatic deaths, especially if the trauma is secondary to the entrapment under the debris following an earthquake.




Hekimoglu, Y., Melez, I. E., Canturk, G., Erkol, Z., Canturk, N., Dizdar, M. G., … Guler, O. N. (2013). Evaluation of the deaths secondary to entrapment under the debris in the Van earthquake. Egyptian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 3(2), 44–47. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ejfs.2013.02.001

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