Death by Coconut

A coconut can fall and hit you on the head,
And if it falls from high enough can kind of knock you dead
Dead beneath the coconut palms, that’s the life for me!
=Frederick Seidel

A beautiful concubine of King Tetui of Mangala (Cooks Island) died tragically while walking under palm trees. She was struck by “a falling green nut. The saddened King ordered to cut down the tree. This happened in the year 1777 and is the first recorded occurrence of death by coconut [1}.

‘BEWARE FALLING COCONUTS’ sign in Honolulu, Hawaii Author Wmpearl

There are various other incidents of falling coconuts resulting death and severe head injuries. Though not so frequent it has become an urban legend following the publication of Barss’ study exaggerating the number of deaths by coconut.

Apart from the possibility of coconut falling on someone’s head there is a greater danger hidden in coconut. Fresh or wet coconut does not have any danger on its own but dried coconut may result in fire due to self-heating. Dried coconuts are called Copra, the word originating from the Malayalam word Copra (കൊപ്ര).

COPRA – by Rajesh dangi

Historically many ships had gone up in flames due to fire started by Copra, below is news of a cargo ship fire reported on 2nd December 1919.

COPRA FIRE ON EX-GERMAN LINER Dominion, Volume 13, Issue 58, 2 December 1919, Page 6
Dominion, Volume 13, Issue 58, 2 December 1919, Page 6




UN Model Regulations classify Copra under Class 4.2 “substances liable to spontaneous combustion

IMDG Code has special stowage requirement for Copra which states; ‘Keep as dry as reasonably practicable. Protected from sources of heat. Provide a good through ventilation for bagged cargo. Double strip stowage is recommended. During the voyage regular temperature readings shall be taken at varying depths in the hold and recorded. If the temperature of the cargo exceeds the ambient temperature and continues to increase, ventilation shall be closed down’.