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Graves dug in Northern Ireland ahead of coronavirus peak

Funeral directors have appealed for members of the public to work with them during the pandemic after lines of freshly-dug graves appeared at a Northern Ireland cemetery. Drone footage posted on social media recently showed a fleet of lorries and mechanical diggers and what appeared to be dozens of graves being dug at Belmont Cemetery in Antrim. Around 50 graves have been dug and markings for around another 50 laid out on the ground. The Irish Association of Funeral Directors (IAFD) asked bereaved families to respect physical distancing regulations. It said: "IAFD members are more mindful and sensitive than ever to the pain of bereaved families who are trying to grieve and say goodbye under increasingly restricted circumstances. "The Association is appealing to the public to work with them at this challenging time for funeral directors and their staff who are on the frontline - leaving their families at home to do their level best to provide bereaved families with the excellent level of quality and caring service for which its members are renowned." On Thursday a man was using a wooden template in the shape of a coffin to mark out graves with a spade. Another man was using an earth mover to dig the graves and put the excess soil in trucks for removal. A statement from Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council's head of communications John Hart said: “As a Council we have to fulfil our statutory duties, one of which is the provision of burials. “We have undertaken a programme of preparatory works to ensure we can meet this requirement, particularly in the context where we might experience any reduction in cemeteries staff due to illness.” He added: "Of course like everyone, we sincerely hope these measures turn out to be unnecessary, but we must hope with our hearts, and plan with our heads."

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