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This paper describes the two mass-casualty, terrorist attacks that occurred in Istanbul, Turkey in November 2003, and the resulting prehospital emergency response.
A complex, retrospective, descriptive study was performed, using open source reports, interviews, direct measurements of street distances, and hospital records from the American Hospital (AH) and Taksim Education and Research State Hospital (TERSH) in Istanbul.
On 15 November, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in trucks were detonated outside the Neve Shalom and Beth Israel Synagogues, killing 30 persons and injuring an estimated additional 300. Victims were maldistributed to 16 medical facilities. For example, AH, a private hospital located six km from both synagogues, received 69 injured survivors, of which 86% had secondary blast injuries and 13% were admitted to the hospital. The TERSH, a government hospital located 1 km from both synagogues, received 48 injured survivors. On 20 November, IEDs in trucks were detonated outside the Hong Kong Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) headquarters and the British Consulate (BC), killing 33 and injuring an estimated additional 450. Victims were maldistributed to 16 medical facilities. For example, TERSH, located 18 km from the HSBC site and 2 km from the the BC received 184 injured survivors, of which 93% had secondary blast injuries and 15% were hospitalized. The AH, located 9 km from the HSBC site and 6 km from the BC, received 16 victims.
The twin suicide truck bombings on 15 and 20 November 2003 were the two largest terrorist attacks in modern Turkish history, collectively killing 63 persons and injuring an estimated 750 others. The vast majority of victims had secondary blast injuries, which did not require hospitalization. Factors associated with the maldistribution of casualties to medical facilities appeared to include the distance from each bombing site, the type of medical facility, and the personal preference of injured survivors.
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