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Prehosp Disaster Med. 2007 Jul-Aug;22(4):276-80.

Suicide bombing of the Mineralnye Vody Train: case study in using open-source information for open-source health intelligence.

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Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Emory University Department of Emergency Medicine, Center for Injury Control, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.



Open-source information consists of a range of publicly available material, including various periodicals, news reports, journal publications, photographs, and maps. Although intelligence agencies regularly use open-source information in developing strategically important intelligence, the disaster community has yet to evaluate its use for planning or research purposes. This study examines how open-source information, in the form of Internet news reports and public access disaster databases, can be used to develop a rapid, 72-hour case report.


Open-source information was extrapolated from several news reports on a terrorist bombing that occurred in Russia on 05 December 2003, using a self-devised "data" collection sheet, and background information collected on the nature of similar disasters using three public access databases.


The bulk of health-related information was collected in the first 13 hours after the event, including casualty demographics, immediate dead, total dead, admitted, and treated-and-released. The complex and prolonged rescue of casualties was identified, as well as the presence of unexploded ordnance. This incident also was identified as the first publicly reported suicide terrorist bombing of a commuter train.


Open-source information has the potential to be a helpful tool in reconstructing a chain of events and response. However, its use must be validated further and used appropriately. Standards for collection and analysis also must be developed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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