In pictures: life in a cemetery after the earthquake in Turkey
Tasked with burying hundreds of victims of the massive earthquakes that struck Turkey, undertaker Ali Doğru brings his wife and four sons to live in an old bus at the cemetery where he works in the city of Iskenderun.
devastating earthquakes last month More than 54,000 people were killed In Turkey and Syria leaving millions homeless. Survivors are sheltering in tents, container homes, hotel resorts, university dormitories and even train cars after hundreds of thousands of buildings have collapsed, leaving others unsafe.
Fearing for his family’s safety, Doğru moved his family to the cemetery from their damaged apartment shortly after the first earthquake occurred on February 6. They have been living in an abandoned bus there ever since.
In more than six years working at the cemetery, the 46-year-old undertaker buried about five bodies a day. On the first night after the earthquake, 12 people were buried. The daily numbers of dead bodies received began to rise, and within 10 days of the earthquake, he arranged for the burial of a total of 1,210 victims.
He said he could cope with living in the cemetery, but the large number of burials over such a short period left him with deep psychological scars.
Dogru, a former butcher, likened the scene of people carrying their dead family members to the cemetery to people carrying lambs as offerings on Eid al-Adha.
“As a butcher, I used to see people bring lambs in their arms to be sacrificed. It hit me hard when I saw people carrying their babies and partners.”
With so many burials to be arranged, Dogru had to find heavy machinery for digging the graves and coordinate with scores of imams who came from all over Turkey to help.
“All I wanted was one thing: to work day and night to finish this job. I don’t want people to come and say the bodies weren’t buried,” he said, adding that there were no mass graves.
Dogrow said he buried some children and parents who died in each other’s arms in the same grave and prevented people from separating them. I said: Death cannot separate this child from the mother or the father. why are you doing that? “
Dogrow also assisted officials in photographing unidentified bodies, taking fingerprints and blood and DNA samples. Later, the people showed the graves of their relatives after they were found through blood tests.