German morticians work for dignified burial of earthquake victims in Turkey

(Photo by Adem ALTAN / AFP)

German morticians are working to remove dead bodies from the rubble and ensure the proper burial of the deceased in southern Turkey, which was hit by deadly earthquakes on February 6, Deutsche Welle (DW) Turkish service reported.

After the devastating earthquakes, many foreign volunteers who participated in search and rescue efforts returned home after days of work.

However, German morticians who also worked with rescue teams remained in the country since many bodies still had to be dug out of the rubble, in the hope that they could still reach someone who had survived under the debris.

Turkey’s most powerful earthquake in almost 100 years, which struck near the city of Gaziantep in the early hours of February 6, has so far claimed the lives of more than 41,000 people in Turkey in addition to injuring in excess of 100,000. Close to 220,000 disaster victims have been evacuated from the region to date, according to the latest official figures.

The 7.8-magnitude earthquake was followed by dozens of aftershocks, including a 7.5-magnitude temblor that jolted the region in the middle of search and rescue efforts the same day.

Speaking to the DW, the German team said they had witnessed countless tragic scenes but also hopeful ones and that they were fully aware of the importance of their work.

The team said they always put the dignity of the deceased person first when they take them from the rubble. Markus Maichle, team leader and coordinator of the German funeral charity Deathcare Germany, said, “How would you feel if the dead bodies of your loved ones were dragged out of the rubble indiscriminately? Our priority is to treat them with dignity.”

After they remove the bodies from the rubble, they clean them according to the religious beliefs and wishes of the relatives of the deceased, if possible, the team said.

The German team said they would stay in the earthquake area for longer than first expected since they are still needed.

Relatives of people who lost their lives in the earthquake complain that many bodies were carelessly taken out in pieces and that they were unable to organize a dignified burial for their loved ones.

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