Bodies lay in the courtyard of one morgue in the southern Haitian city of Les Cayes on Wednesday as funeral directors struggled to cope with the arrival of corpses following a devastating earthquake that killed nearly 2,000 people.
Morgues in the bustling port town said they had run out of space to store corpses as rescue workers toiled for a fifth day to pull dead bodies from the wreckage caused by Saturday’s 7.2 magnitude quake.
Jeantine Prosper, director of the ‘Shalom’ morgue, said he was having trouble finding places to store the bodies inside the building and to find fuel for the generator to keep them refrigerated inside.
In a patio at the rear of his small business, beneath a corrugated iron roof, several bodies lay beneath sheets, sheltered from the tropical sun. Inside, corpses lay head-to-toe on the tiled floor of the refrigerated room.
“This is a crisis,” Prosper said.
He said the morgue has received 41 bodies since Saturday, including six children, and he was keeping his operation open even though he and his family were left homeless by the quake.
“I could have died too,” he said. “We are all victims.”
A few streets away, another morgue named Sacrecoeur had received 90 bodies since Saturday.
It was the most corpses the facility had received in its 15-year operation, director Michel Vladimir Lamothe said. It exceeded even the aftermath of a cataclysmic 2010 earthquake, which struck closer to the capital Port-au-Prince, killing more than 200,000 people.
Marc Dor Lebrun, director of an upscale funeral home and morgue, Les Entreprises Marc Dor Lebrun, in Les Cayes agreed.
“In 2010, we received bodies from Port-au-Prince. Now, we’re completely full, for the first time in our history,” he said. “We can’t accept any more bodies.”