It’s a hell of a way to die

CAUTION:  This post contains graphic descriptions of a very unusual and extremely painful form of death.  Do not read it if you’re squeamish.

I was shocked rigid – with bad memories – by a news report last weekend.

Japanese authorities arrested a man Saturday after another person died when he allegedly shot compressed air into their rectum as a prank.

Yoshiyuki Yoshida, 34, was arrested for the accidental killing of Akio Ishimaru, 46, according to Ibaraki Prefecture Ryugasaki police … The two were apparently fooling around on their break when Yoshida took the air compressor and injected a blast of air in between Ishimaru’s buttocks, the news site reported.

Ishimaur began to feel ill minutes after the prank and was taken to the hospital where he later died. Yoshida reportedly admitted to committing the crime.

“It was a tragic accident but not the first of its kind,” police said in a statement. “The air compressor was pushed up against the anus, over clothing, not directly into the cavity, and the release of the air into the body probably damaged the lungs, causing death. We are waiting for the results of an autopsy, which is still being scheduled.”

There’s more at the link.

Apparently this sort of “prank” or “accident” is not unknown in Japan, for some weird reason.  I’d never considered this as any sort of joke at all.  Compressed gases are nothing to fool with.  The dangers of high-pressure gas inside the body are all too real, as some victims of terrorism in Southern Africa – and, later, the perpetrators – found out the hard way.

I remember when I first heard of someone being murdered by terrorists using a compressed air pump.  He was a backyard mechanic in Soweto, whom they shook down for “protection money” to help fund their “liberation operations” (which consisted largely of confiscating whatever they wanted from the local populace, up to and including every attractive woman in sight whom they felt like bedding).  He objected to them trying to extort money from him, whereupon they accused him of “counter-revolutionary sympathies” and of being a “stooge” for the apartheid authorities.  He wasn’t, of course, but that didn’t stop them.  After all, the “revolution” needed “examples” to teach people not to resist its demands.  They beat him up until he could no longer defend himself, then bent him over the hood of a car, ripped off his pants, sodomized him with the nozzle of a car tire air pump, and shot him full of compressed air.  It ruptured almost all the organs in his digestive system;  bowel, intestines, stomach, etc.  He died screaming in agony several hours later.

Their choice of a murder weapon may have been spur-of-the-moment, but its results clearly inspired them, because they began to use it on others.  I knew of five people who were killed in the same fashion by the same gang.  It might have spread to other terrorists as the word got around, but some of the locals took matters into their own hands.  They gathered their friends and associates, provided the terrorists with some drugged food and/or drink, waited until they were no longer capable of resistance, then overpowered them and tied them up.  They killed them with a refinement of their preferred method.  Instead of pumping them full of compressed air, they used a portable gas welding apparatus (oxygen and acetylene) – then struck a match near the relevant orifice.  I leave the results to your imagination.  I saw them, the following day.  Not pretty.

Folks, don’t fool around with compressed gases of any kind – particularly not when the human body is involved.  They can be lethal.



  1. Worked for ten years at a railroad car shop repair facility.
    We had piped in compressed air, Mapp gas, and oxygen.
    We were under strict orders not to used compressed air to blow debris off of our clothing because of the chance of something like what was described happening.
    Now Mapp gas, similar to acetylene, and oxygen are a fun combination. Legitimately used for heating and cutting metals, but if you fill a bread wrapper with oxygen and just a squirt of Mapp you have a really impressive firecracker. Tape a bit of paper to the outside, light the paper, and run like the devil. One would blow the dust off the roof beams 20 feet up.

  2. I'd heard of something like this, though not the terrorist detail, some time ago, with apt warnings about such things.

    Long ago, Pa (and I..) filled small balloons with various gasses and ignited such. Hydrogen wasn't that big of a deal, nor propane, but then there was acetylene. We decided right then that was enough of that and *nothing* more would be done with acetylene that wasn't oxy-acetylene brazing, etc.

    Years later I'd heard of some folks who, at a different plant than the one I was working on, had discovered/realized that acetylene was lighter than air. And so they filled trash bags(!) with it and let them go fly off. And then, it being a northern Winter evening, it was DRY and static discharge happened. Two things gave it away: 1) the layer of dust (that HAD been quietly resting on beams, etc.) on everything in the facility and 2) the admission to a local hospital/clinic for hearing issues.

  3. In Japan, it was/is considered a cool joke to shove one's fingers or other objects up an unsuspected subject's bum. Sometimes the Japanese culture is just.. alien. But using gasses? That is just wrong.

    Starting in the late 1800's and up to today, using pressurized air was and is a method of skinning an animal.

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