Research Highlights

Mumbai train blast survivors escape major eye trouble

Subhra Priyadarshini

doi:10.1038/nindia.2007.19 Published online 28 September 2007

A study on Mumbai serial train blast survivors of July 2006 has urged the need to institute protocols for quick mass screening to avoid any adverse effect of improvised explosive devices (IED) on the victims' eyes1.

Salil Mehta (right), Prakash Jiandani

A series of IED explosions occurred in five crowded local commuter trains on July 11, 2006 killing 190 people and injuring over 700. The researchers studied 28 patients admitted to their hospital in Mumbai to find that 16 had ocular injuries while 12 were normal. The injuries included haemorrhages, first or second degree burns to the upper or lower lids and corneal injuries. Two patients underwent surgical procedures whereas the rest were treated medically.

"Physicians treating survivors of IED blasts should be aware of the patterns of eye injuries. The patterns of eye injuries seen depend on the construction of the IED, the location of the victim relative to the blast and the setting of the blast and crowded commuter trains present a unique milieu," lead researcher Salil Mehta says.

Despite the eye being small in size, eye injuries are common in survivors of terrorist explosive blasts. These include high-order explosives (HE) or low-order explosives (LE). HE are either regular munitions or fashioned into improvised explosive devices (IED) that consist of a HE core with surrounding oil and shrapnel.

Serial IED explosions have occurred in commuter trains in several cities including London and Madrid but data on eye injuries is limited.


References

  1. Mehta, S.et al. Ocular injuries in survivors of improvised explosive devices (IED) in commuter trains. BMC Emergency Medicine doi: 10.1186/1471-227X-7-16 (2007).