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The Role of Forensic Anthropology in the Examination of the Daegu Subway Disaster (2003, Korea)

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Meticulous recovery of victims in the Daegu subway disaster was possible, because charred and fragmented victims were left in situ. Because bodies were piled one over another within the train, appropriate methodology during the recovery was critical to identifying the victims. The disaster area was thoroughly documented with notes, photographs, and schematic drawings of the various locations. The recovery team, comprising two medical examiners and one forensic anthropologist, decided when charred body parts and cremated bones were linked to the same individual based on the anatomy and forensic anthropological examination. Without these recovery procedures, it would not have been possible to efficiently harvest representative DNA sample from most of the victims’ body parts. After the entire process of identification, 136 victims were positively identified, and six victims remained unidentified. This study supports the crucial role of forensic anthropologists in the recovery of victims, especially in fire scenes.
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Keywords: disaster; fire scenes; forensic anthropology; forensic science; identification; recovery

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Anatomy, College of Medicine, Soonchunhyang University, 366-1, Ssangyong-dong, Cheonan-si, Chungcheongnam-do, Seoul 330946, Korea. 2: Department of Anatomy, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, 911-1 Mok-6-dong, Yangcheon-ku, Seoul 158710, Korea. 3: Division of Forensic Medicine, National Institute of Scientific Investigation, 331-1, Sinwol 7-dong, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul 158707, Korea. 4: Department of Oral Medicine/Forensic Odontology, College of Dentistry, Pusan National University, 1-10, Ami-dong, Seo-gu, Busan 602739, Korea. 5: Department of Anatomy/Catholic Institute for Applied Anatomy, College of Medicine, The Catholic University of Korea, 505, Banpo-dong, Seocho-gu, Seoul 137701, Korea.

Publication date: 2009-05-01

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