Thu Oct 20 23:33:34 SAST 2016


By Bobby Jordan | Jan 27, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Truck-loads of unidentified bodies are still being dumped in mass graves outside Port-au-Prince in Haiti more than two weeks after the massive earthquake that hit the Caribbean nation.

With the earthquake death toll still rising as bulldozers uncover more bodies beneath the rubble, the Haitian government has had to turn an entire mountainside into a scene from a horror movie, where bodies lie crumpled together in a large open trench.

There is no more space to bury the dead in Port-au-Prince and the huge number of bodies - 112 250 at last count - now poses a major health risk.

Officials believe tens of thousands more dead are likely to be pulled out of the rubble as a massive international recovery operation continues across the earthquake zone. The January 12 disaster destroyed about 10percent of housing in Port-au-Prince and up to 80 percent of buildings in some outlying towns.

This week The Times watched children strolling home past the gruesome burial scene at the infamous Titamyen site about 20 minutes drive outside the city, once a place where political activists routinely turned up dead. Since the earthquake nobody knows who is being buried there because there are far too many.

Just 100m from the main road a mass grave, about 3m deep and 5m wide, had been left open with several bodies inside, all of them in an advanced state of decomposition.

A team of woodcutters said the grave was still open because more trucks were on their way to fill it up - and upon leaving, The Times witnessed a truck-load of bodies speeding towards the site.

The woodcutters said the trucks arrived day and night, and had systematically dropped and buried their load right across the mountainside.

"I stay 30 minutes walk from here - I still smell it there," said Luckner Clerzier. "We are Haitians. This hurts us because it could have been me in there," he said, adding that the government had no other burial option due to the enormous death toll.

Margaret Givlen, who stopped to talk to The Times as she walked past the grave on her way home to her village further up the mountain, said the body trucks had become part of their daily lives. The two hectare site adjoining a rock quarry appears to contains hundreds of grave trenches - all covered except those being filled. The stench is overwhelming.

Trucks clearing the city have also dumped mountains of rubble all along the route to Titamyen. In some places people pick through the piles, hoping to find valuables. There are also other smaller mass grave sites along the route.


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