August 25, 2013
An infant from India is being treated for second degree burns at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital (KMCH) after his parents witnessed him spontaneously catch on fire on 4 separate occasions.
Rajeshwari Karnan, the child’s mother told the press that: “There was a flame on his belly and his right knee, and my husband rushed with a towel to put it off. I got very scared.”
Karnan said that after her son was 9 days old, she found him on fire when left alone in their hut for a brief moment.
Chandradevi Thanikachalam, the general secretary for the ICCW said: “Nobody has been able to pinpoint the reason why Rahul suffered burn injuries. Our aim is to protect the child until a conclusion is reached, so we’ll keep Rahul and his mother Rajeshwari in a place where he will also get additional protection, but only after his parents’ approval.”
Narayan Babu, doctor at the KMCH commented: “We are in a dilemma and haven’t come to any conclusion. The parents have held that the child burned instantaneously without any provocation. We are carrying out numerous tests. We are not saying it is SHC until all investigations are complete.”
Spontaneous human combustion (SHC) has been cited in 200 cases across the globe.
The characteristics of SHC are:
• The torso is the focus of the fire
• The body is nearly completely consumed
• Damage is restricted to the body and immediate surroundings
• No trace of accelerant or external cause is found
• Victim is alone at the time of death
Benjamin Radford, deputy editor of Skeptical Inquirer, commented on SHC: “If SHC is a real phenomenon (and not the result of an elderly or infirm person being too close to a flame source), why doesn’t it happen more often? There are 6 billion people in the world, and yet we don’t see reports of people bursting into flame while walking down the street, attending football games, or sipping a coffee at a local Starbucks.
In 1980, Henry Thomas died at 73 years old of SHC. It was determined that Thomas inhaled his own combustion which contributed to his death.
Michael Faherty died in 2010 of SHC. The coroner said in a statement: “This fire was thoroughly investigated and I’m left with the conclusion that this fits into the category of spontaneous human combustion, for which there is no adequate explanation.”
Medical care experts at KMCH are analyzing the infant who has undergone testing. There is nothing found by the doctors thus far that can explain how the child is suddenly bursting into flames.
Native media are saying that Karnan herself was the center of mysterious fires that burned down several homes in 2004.