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Mass Graves Inevitable in Haiti, Health Experts Say

Mass Graves Inevitable in Haiti, Health Experts Say

By Kevin Caruso

January 14, 2010

With thousands of bodies piling up in Port-au-Prince, and thousands more to come, health experts believe that mass graves must be used to get the bodies off the streets, or an outbreak of water-borne diseases may occur.

"There are masses of people who are on top of each other, so they will just be forced to make mass burials," said Dr. Michael Baden, chief forensic pathologist for the New York State Police.

"Bodies decaying in the hot sun will not only create an odor that is offensive to humans, but it will also attract small animals and insects that can spread disease, and that’s where the long-term public health issues come into play."

And with the rush to bury the dead in mass graves, few will be identified.

"I think what’s happening there is they're not going to be able to bury the bodies in any reasonable fashion, and unless somebody dies in the hospital they’re not going to be able to identify the bodies by any means," Baden said. “You have to remember that 38 percent of 9/11 decedents have not been identified today with all the information and resources we have here in the United States."

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