Are carboxyhaemoglobin levels and distance of the corpse from the site of explosion linked? Results from the retrospective analysis of a terroristic attack

Medico-Legal Journal, Ahead of Print.
We present a retrospective analysis of a terrorist attack with incendiary grenades. We tried to analyse the correlation between carboxyhaemoglobin levels and distance of the corpse from the explosion site to check whether there is a direct relationship between them. In most fatal cases caused by grenade explosions reported in literature, death results from disruptive injuries or following multiorgan complications of the trauma, but here the terrorists used incendiary grenades causing serious burns to the victims with flames at the site of explosion. As a result, the external injuries were not fatal for most victims, especially those further from the explosion site where the flames and carbon monoxide from the fire played a significant role in causing death. The convergence of circumstantial data, autopsy results, and toxicological data led us to conclude that a direct link between the carboxyhaemoglobin level and distance from the site of explosion could not be made. Understanding the limitation of the value of linking such data is important both for police and forensic pathologists as this can reduce potential errors in reconstructing the dynamics of the event.

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