Turkish undertaker’s household transfer to cemetery as he buries earthquake useless By Reuters

By Susana Vera

ISKENDERUN, Turkey (Reuters) – Tasked with burying lots of of victims of Turkey’s huge earthquakes, undertaker Ali Dogru introduced his spouse and 4 sons to reside in an outdated bus by the cemetery the place he works within the metropolis of Iskenderun, so he may know they had been secure.

Final month’s devastating earthquakes killed greater than 54,000 folks in Turkey and Syria and left tens of millions homeless. Survivors are sheltering in tents, container houses, lodge resorts, college dormitories and even practice carriages after lots of of 1000’s of buildings collapsed and others had been left unsafe.

Shortly after the primary earthquake struck on Feb. 6, Ali, 46, moved his household to the cemetery from their broken condominium to shelter in a bus on the web site. They’ve been dwelling there since.

In his greater than six years working on the cemetery Ali usually buried round 5 folks a day. The primary night time after the earthquake he buried 12. The day by day numbers then soared. Inside ten days of the quake he had organized the burials of a complete of 1,210 victims.

He can address dwelling in a cemetery, he mentioned. However having to take care of so many burials directly left him with deep psychological scars.

A former butcher, Ali likened the sight of individuals carrying their useless members of the family to the cemetery to folks carrying lambs as sacrificial choices for the Muslim feast of Eid al-Adha.

“As a butcher, I used to see folks convey lambs of their arms to be sacrificed. It hit me very laborious after I noticed folks carrying their kids, their companions,” he mentioned.

With so many burials to rearrange, Ali needed to discover heavy equipment to dig graves and coordinate with the tens of imams who got here from throughout Turkey to assist.

“All I wished was one factor: to work day and night time to complete this job. I did not need folks coming and saying that the our bodies weren’t buried,” he mentioned, including there have been no mass graves.

Ali mentioned he buried some kids and fogeys who died in one another’s arms in the identical grave and stopped folks from separating them. “I mentioned, ‘loss of life couldn’t separate this youngster from the mom or the daddy. Why would you achieve this?'”

In Islamic custom our bodies are buried in solely a shroud.

Ali additionally helped officers {photograph} unidentified our bodies, take fingerprints and blood and DNA samples. He later confirmed households to the graves of their family, after that they had been discovered via blood exams.


Ali’s sons spend a lot of the day with their mom since faculties are nonetheless closed. They play among the many graves with their cousins, who reside with Ali’s brother Emrullah and his spouse Asli in a tent subsequent to the bus. The household additionally moved to the cemetery for security and amid fears of aftershocks.

Ali fears for his or her psychological state, however could not discover anybody to take care of them away from the cemetery.

“I plan on taking them on vacation as soon as we’re all settled,” he mentioned. “They noticed all of the folks with our bodies of their arms as a result of they had been with me.”

Ali’s spouse Hatice mentioned that they had seen many our bodies across the bus, principally kids.

The household went hungry for the primary three days sheltering on the cemetery as everybody labored to carry funerals. The kids didn’t complain, 43 year-old Hatice mentioned. Her older sons had been doing properly, she mentioned, although her youngest son began biting his nails and asking to go dwelling.

They slept on blankets for the primary few days, then picket boards and just lately acquired beds to sleep on within the bus.

The household had lived solely seven months at their home, which authorities mentioned sustained little harm. Whereas Hatice is snug going inside, Ali is extra cautious. “We’re attempting to beat our fears,” he mentioned.

Hatice hopes they’ll transfer again in on the finish of April and has been cleansing up there to organize

“I am considering of going again dwelling after Eid,” she mentioned, referring to the Muslim vacation Eid al-Fitr, which comes after Ramadan, a month of fasting.

“The place can we go if we depart this place? I do not need something. I simply need my home.”

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