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Traumatic asphyxia causes death, says expert

K.T.Sangameswaran

It's a condition when body is deprived of oxygen, causing unconsciousness or death Signs of external injuries such as contusion or abrasion or laceration may or may not be present

CHENNAI : What causes death of a stampede victim? The death is due to "traumatic asphyxia", says K. Mathiharan, an eminent forensic pathologist in the city.

He explains that asphyxia means a condition arising when the body is deprived of oxygen causing unconsciousness or death.

When the chest is pressed violently in a crowd or trampled upon in the rush of such crowds, traumatic asphyxia results. The term traumatic asphyxia is applied when there is sufficient external mechanical compression of the chest sufficient to cause death.

In such a situation, the mode of death is usually due to asphyxia caused by suffocation, a term applied to that form of death that results from the exclusion of air from the lungs by means other than that of the compression of the neck. Death occurs, on an average, from four to five minutes, after complete withdrawal of air from the lungs, Dr. Mathiharan says.

Initially, the victims suffer a shock. A couple of minutes later, brain activity may come down due to absence of oxygen. Hence the victims go into unconsciousness and later die due to asphyxia.

In victims of traumatic asphyxia, signs of external injuries such as contusion or abrasion or laceration may or may not be present.

The ribs are usually fractured on both the sides. Rarely, along with the ribs, the sternum is fractured.

No foul play suspected

According to official sources, in the case of the victims of the MGR Nagar stampede, post-mortem was waived as investigators did not suspect any foul play. The bodies were handed over to the family members along with death certificates in the presence of Revenue and police officials after taking photographs.

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