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March 2016 – Belo Horizonte, Brazil. A 37-year-old man was found dead by his father at his residence in the city of Belo Horizonte. The deceased was lying on a mattress in a room he used as a bedroom and his face was badly disfigured.

At 11 pm the night before, the father heard a loud bang that sounded like fireworks but didn’t think much of it because the national football team was playing and his son was used to lighting fireworks when the team was playing (The Brazil national men’s football(soccer) team played two games in the World Cup Qualifiers that month, against Uruguay on the 26th and Paraguay on the 30th, both games ended with 2-2 draw).

The investigation revealed that the son found himself in a state of depression with psychiatric problems, made use of prescription drugs, had just finished a romantic relationship recently, and was undergoing financial difficulties.

Fig.1 Injuries on the victim’s face.

During the site examination, the investigators observed bloodstain impacts on the ceiling, on the back wall of the room, at the bottom of a staircase, and also on his hands and arms. A fragment of a nose and a mouth was found near the victim’s feet.

On top of some utensils piled under the stairs were some fragments of tissue and an upper dental arch from the victim. A larger fragment of the dental arch was found on the right and posteriorly to the mattress, next to the door to the room.

On the floor and to the right of the victim’s body was a cardboard tube of the type used to launch fireworks and a lighter. Smaller cardboard tubes with blood impregnations were also found on the floor.

A bottle containing blackened granules was also found in the room on a piece of furniture, which was identified as the insecticide Aldicarb.

Fig.2 Position and location of the victim.

The autopsy detailed lesions and the tearing of the face, caused by explosive material with the destruction of facial features: nose, cheeks, upper dental arch, part of the forehead, and mandible.

Ingredients similar to those described on the packaging of the fireworks found next to the victim’s body were also found at the autopsy, indicating that such firework would have exploded very close to the victim’s face, possibly inside the victim’s mouth.

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.

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