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200                                              MEDICAL JURISPRUDENCE

On May 1, 1933, at about 6 p.xn., lightning struck the undertrial ward of the district
jail, Bareillv, in which about a dozen undertrial prisoners were sitting in a row of two
in the middle line of the barrack facing the iron-grated door.

The lightning-flash struck the arch of the front iron-grated door of the barrack,,
travelled down to the Eoor for a distance oŁ about 29 feet, scattering in several sparks,
and then upward to an iron rod, 6 feet long, hanging from the roof. It melted the rod,
and then passed to the floor of one of the side iron-grated windows. Here it fused
two iron cups lying in the vicinity and finally passed into the earth.

AH the twelve undertrial prisoners, who were sitting in the barrack, were simul-
taneously struck, and were thrown upon its floor in varying states of insensibility. One
of them suffered from a severe type of shock, was unconscious for twenty-four hours
after which he recovered. Another person developed paralysis of the left upper and
lower limbs, but recovered. Two were very severely burnt mostly on the abdomen,
chest, buttocks, scrotum, penis and thighs. One of them died and the other recovered.

The characteristic features of the injuries of all these cases were as follows : —

(1)  They were mostly on the lower part of the body.

(2)  The burns varied in degree from mere discoloration to scorching and destruc-
tion of the skin.   The burns never went deeper.

(3)  Eczema similar to one noticed after X-Ray burns developed in most of these

(4)  Shock was the predominant symptom and injection of gum and pituitrin had
a marked beneficial effect.

(5)  Some of these patients developed a fright complex after recovery.

4. A man lying in a small hut in Tanganyika territory was struck by lightning
and died at once. The following injuries were found on the body of the deceased: —

The scalp was not injured, but a fracture of the left side of the frontal bone extended
outwards to the base and a fracture of the right parietal bone passed backwards over the
occipital bone to the foramen magnum. The base of the skull was shattered by multiple
fractures with displacements of the fragments. The brain showed no macroscopic signs
of injuries.

On the left side of the neck all the soft tissues between the trachea and cervical
vertebrae had been blown out, leaving a gap in which a closed fist could be placed. The
wound on the left shoulder involved the whole of the deltoid region and showed a
double fracture of the humerus, one at the neck of the bone, and the other 4 inches
lower down the shaft. The separated portion of the bone was lying free in the wound
completely denuded of muscle.

There were scattered superficial wounds and abrasions on the face and chest, and
the right side of the abdomen was slate-gray in colour, the skin being dry and parch-
ment-like. No actual burning or singeing could be seen. Superficial wounds in the
pubic region involved the penis and scrotum, and deep lacerated wounds extending
from the groins to within 2 inches of the knees were found on the inner sides of both
knees. There was a lacerated wound of the big toe, with smaller wounds on the dorsum
of the foot.

About 9 inches from the rear wall of the hut where the body was lying there was
a coconut tree which showed the signs of the effect of recent lightning, lie top was
damaged and at intervals down the trunk the bark had been torn off. The hut which
was constructed of sticks and mud with a low thatched roof showed no signs of recent

There was another man in the hut, but he was practically unhurt, though he was
somewhat dazed and was unable to give the account of the accident.—D. A. Skan, Brit,
Med. Jour^ April 16, 1949, p. 666.


Cases of injury or death from electric shocks occur in those cities where
electricity is used for lighting and motive purposes. The electrical main
may break, and the two ends may fall on a person, thus making a short
circuit, or the workman may grasp the ends of a live wire, or may stand
on one with the other in his hand.

The Effects of Electricity.—The chief effect of electricity is shock pro-
duced by its current. It varies in accordance with—

1.   Hie nature of the current.

2.    Hie resistance of the body.