Coronavirus burial pits in Iran visible from space

 

Washington Post: Two days after Iran declared its first cases of the novel coronavirus — in what would become one of the largest outbreaks of the illness outside of China — evidence of unusual activity appeared at a cemetery near where the infections emerged.

At the Behesht-e Masoumeh complex in Qom, about 80 miles south of Tehran, the excavation of a new section of the graveyard began as early as Feb. 21, satellite images show, and then rapidly expanded as the virus spread. By the end of the month, two large trenches — their lengths totaling 100 yards — were visible at the site from space.

According to expert analysis, video testimony and official statements, the graves were dug to accommodate the rising number of virus victims in Qom.

In the weeks after the first confirmed coronavirus cases in Qom, Iranian authorities dug two large trenches, totaling 100 yards in length, in the previously unused area of the cemetery to accommodate the rising number of victims.

Satellite imagery from March 1 shows the two trenches. Excavation continued after that.

Iran, a nation of about 80 million people, has suffered a particularly deadly surge of coronavirus infections, including among its top leadership. Iran’s Health Ministry says that 429 people have died of the virus, which causes the disease known as covid-19, and more than 10,000 have fallen ill. Among the dead are members of parliament, a former diplomat and even a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader. At least two dozen other officials, including a vice president, have been infected.

In Qom, the spiritual center of Iran’s ruling Shiite clerics, more than 846 people have contracted the virus, officials say. Iran’s government has not released an official death toll for Qom, however, where about 1.2 million people live. But videos, satellite images and other open-source data from the cemetery — a vast complex six miles north of the city center — suggest that the number of people struck down by the virus there is significantly higher than the official figure.

 

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