November 2017 – Belo Horizonte, Brazil. A 57-year-old female was found dead in a room in the residence where she lived. According to reports, the neighbours heard an explosion from her apartment. The body was discovered by her daughter who also lived in the apartment. The victim’s brother reported that she had previously attempted suicide, by cutting her wrists.
The victim was lying on a bed with her head resting on a pillow. The entire face was disfigured with open wounds and lacerations. Smoke residue was found in the thoracic region.
In the site examination, the investigators were able to verify the presence of bloodstains on the victim’s clothes and body, as well as bloodstains by puddling and saturation on the mattress under her body.
The presence of bloodstains and fragments of the victim’s face was found on the floor, wall, and ceiling of the room, as well as on the wall behind the door, indicating that the room door was closed at the time of the explosion. There was a lighter in the victim’s right hand and on the floor next to the bed was a firework that had exploded.
Fragments of the firework tubes were found adhered to the victim’s hair and a cardboard tube on the bed, close to the wall. The investigators believed that said firework had been placed under the victim’s chin to explode and damage the victim’s head region.
The autopsy was carried out at the Instituto Médico Legal de Belo Horizonte-MG. There were characteristics of second-degree burn in the anterior region of the chest and complete destruction of the cephalic segment with loss of bone tissue, teeth, and brain. The cause of death was determined to be due to traumatic brain injury resulting from the explosion.
Brazil is one of the world’s largest producers of fireworks. The production of fireworks is controlled by the Regulation for the Inspection of Controlled Products (R-105) at the Ministry of the Army and Defense.
Accidents in pyrotechnics are very common, not only due to improper use but mainly during the manufacturing process. Most of the fatal accidents in the production industry occur in the filling and mixing sections.
Deaths involving explosives may occur intentionally, as in cases of homicides, in terrorist attacks, and wars, and also, in rarer cases, in suicide attempts or even consummated suicides, though the use of explosives in suicides is not common, and there are few cases reported in the literature.