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February 23, 1952


Author Affiliations

Toronto, Canada
From the Department of Surgical Pathology, Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Canada.

JAMA. 1952;148(8):621-627. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930080031009

The identification of large numbers of mutilated bodies may be among the many difficult problems to be faced in major disasters resulting from fire or explosion. Such was certainly the case when the steamship "Noronic" was gutted, while tied up at the pier in Toronto, Canada, on Sept. 17, 1949. The deaths of 119 persons were directly attributable to the disaster, and the bodies of 107 were burned beyond possible recognition. The task was undertaken by a Medical Identification Committee, composed of pathologists, radiologists, and dentists.1 This group succeeded in identifying 116 of the 119, and the results have never been equalled. In these uneasy times, when extensive preparations against disaster are being made, the experiences and achievements of such a medical study deserve a place in the records.

The identification of burned bodies is not a new problem, and it has been met on a large scale in

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