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Dead included 17 children

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Oct. 27, 2008) – Seventy-seven unclaimed bodies from the Angau Memorial Hospital morgue were buried in a mass burial last Friday at the Second Seven cemetery.

With the support of the Lae urban local level government, the unclaimed bodies including 17 children were buried after more than two years in the hospital morgue.

A funeral service was conducted by the hospital’s reverend, Pastor Windiong Siawong, at the burial site, witnessed by staff from the hospital and city workers.

The hospital and the Lae city authority had to carry out the mass burial after relatives of the dead did not come forward to collect the bodies, even after an appeal was made by the hospital management.

The morgue was built to hold only 40 bodies at any given time but it was holding more than that number and the hospital was forced to use a refrigerated container to store the bodies.

The hospital said its morgue should be holding bodies for identification, post mortem examinations and quick burial and not for such long periods of time as was experienced.

The hospital said the public should understand that they were not responsible for funeral arrangements and burials. The bodies should be kept at the morgue for only seven days.

The Port Moresby General Hospital has encountered similar problems with mass burials following storage of unclaimed bodies in the hospital morgue. Regular calls are made to relatives to claim the bodies and ensure they are given a decent burial.

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