Iran’s coronavirus burial pits have grown so large you can see them from space

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    Source : Business Insider

    Burial pits have grown so large amid a devastating coronavirus outbreak in Qom, Iran, that they’re visible from space, satellite imagery shows. 

    Along with China and Italy, Iran has been hit especially hard by coronavirus.

    Dozens of lawmakers have been infected, as have senior officials — including the Iranian Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri. And an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei died from the novel coronavirus.

    Meanwhile, Iran has asked the International Monetary Fund for $5 billion in emergency funding to help it fight the coronavirus outbreak. 

    Iranian Health Ministry Spokesman Kianoush Jahanpour on Friday said 514 people have died of the virus in Iran and 11,364 have been infected, per Fars News Agency. But media reports have suggested the Iranian government has not been forthcoming about the death toll, in an effort to mask the devastating scale of the outbreak. 

    The rapid expansion of mass graves in Iran underscores why there is skepticism about the Iranian government’s official death toll.

    The satellite images, taken by the private space technology company Maxar Technologies and first reported by the Washington Post, show the Behesht-e Masoumeh complex in Qom (which includes the city’s biggest cemetery). The image below is an overview of the cemetery on October 29.

    02_overview of beheshte masoumeh cemetery_qom_29oct2019_ge1
    Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies

    Source: Washington Post

    Back in late October, the satellite imagery suggested significant portions of the cemetery were not being used.

    01_beheshte masoumeh cemetery_29oct2019_maxar
    Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

    But it was clear more of the cemetery was being used by early March — just weeks after the first coronavirus case was declared in Iran on February 19.

    March 1
    Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

    Iranian authorities dug two new trenches, both about 100 yards, that were visible from space. The images suggest that graves are being hurriedly dug, which underscores the scale of the outbreak in Iran — and the difficulties officials are having in quelling it. The newly dug lines can be seen in the middle plot of graves on the right side of the image.

    Qom cemetery
    Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

    What appears to be a pile of lime is also visible. Lime is sometimes used in mass graves to help slow decay and reduce odor, and Iranian authorities have said they’re using it in the burials of coronavirus victims.

    Qom cemeberty lime
    Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies.

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