Tuesday, 12 November 2013

DOH rejects mass burial for 'Yolanda' typhoon victims, bodies should be properly documented and identified

The fatalities in last week's onslaught of Typhoon Yolanda should be properly identified and their loved ones notified before their remains are buried in a common grave, Health Secretary Enrique Ona said Monday.

Ona said there is no need to rush the burial of the victims because dead bodies do not pose immediate health risk.

“Those are cadavers and when you die, you are no longer infected. The bacteria dies with you,” he said.

It was estimated that as many as 10,000 people may have died in Tac-loban City alone when Yolanda’s strong winds triggered a storm surge that inundated the city.

A mass burial for Philippines Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) victims, local officials planned one mass grave of between 300 to 500 bodies in one area of Tacloban.

“They can bury the dead in a mass grave only after they have been identified by the NBI (National Bureau of Investigation). It is important for the bereaved families to know where they can find their dead relatives,” he added.

Health Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said being able to retrieve and give proper burial to the remains of their loved ones would greatly ease the anguish of survivors in the tragedy.

“It is not just about burying the dead. It is tormenting if you do not know whether your loved one is just missing or dead. So it is very important for them to be able to give the last rites for their dead relatives,” Tayag said.

Tayag said the department is set to release guidelines for mass burial to concerned local government units.

The guidelines include setting up of a “collection point” for dead bodies.

“While the dead are being documented and identified, mass grave should be prepared. Authorities in charge should know how many bodies will be placed in a grave,” he added.

More grimly, the airport has been turned into a makeshift morgue for the growing number of bodies, found stacked in churches, snagged on tree branches or underneath rubble. Mass graves have been dug to accommodate the corpses, with police chief Elmer Soria reckoning that most victims either drowned or were crushed to death by crumbling buildings.

Tuesday 12 November 2013



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