Sunday 11 December 2016

Mass graves used as lack of fuel stops cremations

Nick Allen in Tokyo

Published 23/03/2011 | 05:00

JAPAN has begun burying some of its tsunami and earthquake victims in temporary mass graves because it does not have enough fuel for traditional cremations.

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In the coastal city of Higashi-Matushima, a mechanical digger was used to excavate two long ditches where two dozen victims were buried. Some of the dead were wrapped in sheets because of a shortage of coffins.

The city government said that up to 1,000 could be laid to rest at the site.

The practice of burial is highly unusual in Japan. The country's health ministry said 99.9pc of bodies were cremated. The process requires 50 litres of kerosene for a single victim, and there is not enough to cope. Makeshift morgues are overwhelmed and there is no dry ice to preserve the dead.

Thieves

Many areas had banned burials because of public health concerns, but now mass graves will be created across the north-east of Japan. The intention is to cremate the victims at a later date. Some families were reported to have taken away the bodies of their loved ones to attempt their own cremations.

Meanwhile, thieves exploited the chaos to steal 40 million yen (€360,000) from a bank in the city of Kesennuma, after the tsunami knocked out security mechanisms and left the safe open.

''The bank was flooded, and things were thrown all over. It was a total mess. Somebody stole the money in the midst of the chaos," said a police spokesman in Miyagi prefecture.

The bank told police yesterday, 11 days after the disaster. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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