Sunday, 29 August 2010

Siberia’s dead are on the move

The dead may not be walking the earth yet, but beneath the surface they have been travelling up to 10 metres from their final resting place.

However, those fearing it's another apocalyptic sign in a summer of fire and drought should rest assured – there’s nothing unnatural, far less supernatural about these roaming bones.

Instead it’s simply a case of loose soil and water causing turbulence beneath the surface.

That’s little comfort to many whose loved ones are buried in cemeteries in the Siberian capital Novosibirsk, however.

Recently the city has seen a surge of requests for exhumations, with locals wanting to cremate corpses following the opening of the city’s first crematorium.

But once the digging started, workmen regularly found that the graves on the ground did not match the people buried below.

“During the exhumation, relatives identify the body only from the clothes or personal items,” undertaker Rodion Yakushin told the city’s funeral museum. “When it is impossible to identify the body...the relatives receive the remains found directly under the grave, but some of them may belong to another person.”

Typically Russians have buried their dead, and the Orthodox church has frowned upon cremation as a means of disposing of corpses.

But as the population grows there is an increasing need to free up space in overflowing cemeteries, meaning city’s like Novosibirsk (population 1.5 million) have started opening crematoriums.

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