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In Iran, a large cemetery struggles to keep up with the virus



Tehran, Iran (Associated Press)-For more than half a century, a huge cemetery on the edge of the Iranian capital has provided the country’s war dead, its celebrities and artists, its thinkers and leaders, and all these people in between. Resting place.

However, Behesht-e-Zahra is now trying to keep up with the corona virus that ravages Iran. The number of bodies transported every day is twice as many as usual, and people who excavate excavators are digging thousands of new lands.

“All the crises we have experienced in this cemetery in the past 50 years lasted only a few days or a week at most,”

; said Saeed Khaal, the cemetery’s manager. He said that there has never been such a long lapse of time with such a high pace, not so fast during the earthquake or even during the country’s war with Iraq in the 1980s.

He said: “Now we have been in a crisis for 260 days. It is not clear how many months of crisis we will face.”

1.6 million people are buried on the ground in Behesht-e-Zahra, covering more than 5 square kilometers (1320 acres). It is one of the largest cemeteries in the world and the main cemetery for 8.6 million people in Tehran. The golden minaret of the Imam Khomeini Temple (the funeral place of the leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979) can be seen for several kilometers (miles).

But it is not big enough for the coronavirus, which entered Iran at the beginning of this year and caused the worst outbreak in the region..

Iran has reported more than 715,000 infections and said 39,664 people have died from the coronavirus so far.The country has set a single-day death record ten times in the past month. Another record occurred on Wednesday, with 462 deaths. According to reports, almost half of the country’s viral deaths occurred in Tehran, putting pressure on the cemetery.

This cemetery has far exceeded the graves of those who died in the war between Iran and Iraq and political figures, and has expanded to new areas. The Tehran leaders announced in June that they were preparing 15,000 new graves there, 5,000 more than usual. Satellite images from September show that these plots-deep enough to hold up to three corpses each-are each separated by a layer of dirt and bricks.

Although not all new graves are for victims of the coronavirus, most are.

For Khaal, sometimes referred to as the “mayor” of this huge cemetery, the pace is something he has never seen before.

He told the Associated Press: “In the past, we accepted 150 to 170 corpses every day, but now, at the peak of death, we accept an average of 350 corpses.”

Khaal said the huge workload has also put pressure on cemetery employees.

It is not clear how other cemeteries in Iran will respond. In March, the authorities arrested a man because he posted a video of the man wrapped in a white shroud in a cemetery in the Shiite holy city of Qom and was wrapped in a black body In the bag, they said they were all “corona-infected.” Officials at the cemetery said at the time that they were testing the body for the virus.

Behesht-e-Zahra (or “Zahra’s Paradise”) in Persian, named after the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad, arrives by ambulance every day. The room attendant prepares each corpse for the baptism of Muslim corpses. During the pandemic, the use of disinfectants is now included.

Later, Aim chanted prayers while the mourners stood on the separated square to ensure that they kept their distance from each other.

Pastor Meysam Rajavi said: “These days, I have to pray on average 25 to 30 death prayers for COVID-19 victims.” “About 12 of us pray for the same number of dead every day. This is a big number. “

The mourners walked along the corpse to the cemetery. Another masked staff member wearing gloves and disposable overalls lowered the corpse to the final resting place.

The mourning echoes of relatives echoed in the newly dug graves, waiting for the next funeral.

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Associated Press reporters, Jon Gmbrel from Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Nasser Karimi and Amir Vadat from Tehran, Iran contributed to this report.

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Follow Mohammad Nasiri on Twitter at www.twitter.com/moenasiri.




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