Explosive end to crematorium

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The Independent Online
A FRENCH court ordered an 82-year-old widow to pay pounds 13,000 to a crematorium that was wrecked when a heart pacemaker exploded during the cremation of her husband's body.

The deceased man's doctor was ordered to pay another pounds 26,000 in damages for failing to warn the crematorium that the body contained the device.

Experts told the court, in Grenoble, that the chemicals in the pacemaker's battery exploded with the force of two grams of TNT - enough to fire a 16lb artillery shell at a speed of 60mph. The furnace at the crematorium, at Gieres, near Grenoble, was extensively damaged by the blast. The widow signed a form on which she was asked whether there was a pacemaker in her husband's body. She ticked the box that said "No", even though the device had been fitted onlyeight months earlier. The doctor did not check whether a pacemaker was in place.

After six years of legal wrangling, the court decided both were negligent but took into account the age and emotional state of the widow at the time. She was ordered to pay one-third of the damages and the doctor - who has since retired - two-thirds.