Forensic aspects of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Disaster

Forensic Sci Int. 2011 Feb 25;205(1-3):2-7. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2010.08.008. Epub 2010 Sep 15.


The 2009 Victorian Bushfires Disaster started on a record hot day in February 2009 and resulted in over 300 separate fires with a death toll of 173 and over 400 presentations to hospital emergency departments. This occurred a little over a week after a heat wave in which over 400 people were thought to have died prematurely in southeastern Australia. The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in collaboration with the police force and the State Coroner's Office and over 100 colleagues from all over Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Japan implemented a DVI process based on Interpol guidelines to identify the deceased persons. CT scanning was conducted on all remains collected and played a pivotal role in the identification processes in conjunction with experts in pathology, anthropology, forensic odontology and molecular biology. This paper outlines the scale of the disaster and the work, from a forensic medical perspective, to identify the deceased.

MeSH terms

  • Australia
  • Cooperative Behavior
  • Coroners and Medical Examiners
  • DNA Fingerprinting
  • Dental Records
  • Disasters*
  • Fires*
  • Forensic Sciences / organization & administration*
  • Hot Temperature / adverse effects
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Medical Records
  • Police
  • Rescue Work / organization & administration
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed