Mariupol, Ukraine (AFP) – Under constant Russian bombardment, workers in the besieged southern Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is hastily and informally burying dozens of dead Ukrainian civilians and soldiers in a mass grave.
With a surplus of mortuaries, and more uncollected bodies in homes, city officials decided they couldn’t wait to bury individuals.
A deep trench about 25 meters (27 yards) in length has been dug into an old cemetery in the heart of the city, and is filled with corpses collected by municipal social workers from morgues and private homes.
Some are brought wrapped in rugs or plastic bags. Forty came on Tuesday, another 30 until Wednesday. Including civilians, victims of the bombing of the city, soldiers and civilians who died from diseases or natural causes.
Other workers in the city are also bringing in bodies, so the numbers being buried are increasing rapidly and the total number in the tall cemetery is now unclear.
Workers quickly make the sign of the cross after pushing the bodies into the common grave. No family members or other mourners are present to see them off.
Work is carried out efficiently and informally, as a result of constant risk. And shells landed in the same cemetery Tuesday, cutting off the burial and damaging a wall.
The city plans to close this cemetery on Thursday, if the bombing stops long enough to allow workers to do so.
At the gates of the cemetery, a woman asked if her mother was among those buried in the trench. She said she left her body 3 days ago outside the mortuary, with a paper poster stating her name. The workers told the woman, who declined to give her name, that her mother was buried there.
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