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NOUMEA, New Caledonia (November 6, 2001 - Oceania Flash/SPC)---The territory now has its first crematorium, which is expected to handle about sixty cremations a year, the daily newspaper Les Nouvelles Calédoniennes reported.

Cremation is new to New Caledonia, where the mostly Christian-based practice of burying the dead is followed.

The crematorium is located near the capital of Nouméa.

It was officially opened on Thursday, All Saints Day, also know as the Day of the Dead.

"We chose this date as a tribute to all the persons who could not be cremated, due to a lack of facilities," New Caledonia's local cremation association President Maurice Pelage said.

The association fought for many years before it finally obtained permission from the local authorities to set up the facility at cost of about US$ 340,000.

"We had to convince the public that cremation is not ‘diabolical,’ but just another kind of funeral."

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