The New Dawn (Monrovia)

21 August 2014

Liberia: Visit to the Crematorium Center and How Corpses Are Cremated

Photo: FrontPageAfrica
An Ebola survivor rejoices upon being released from an isolation center.

opinion

It was a fateful Tuesday evening of August 20, 2014 when I chose to embark on a fact-finding mission to ascertaining whether seventeen Ebola patients who fled the densely popular West point quarantined center were traced based on the government's pronouncement. I was in the Township of West Point to observe the center and take some photo, but upon my arrival, I could only see people gathered in different groups discussing with some police officers how to retrieve items looted on Saturday, August 17, 2014 from the quarantined center by looters from the township.

While soliciting the views of a few persons on last Saturday's Saturday violent looting spree, a group armed AFL soldiers and PSU officers, alongside one of the health teams, approached the community to pick up corpses of suspected Ebola victims. They had arrived with the understanding that there were dead bodies in West point. The armed officers then pursued and apprehended a suspect (name withheld) who allegedly stole some of the items, including mattress and a generator used at the quarantined center in West point. He was made to carry the generator on his head through the main street of the Township of West Point. Everyone was asked to keep indoors, while the health team collected bodies in the community, and then left for the Borough of New Kru Town, specifically the Redemption Hospital, where two additional suspected Ebola corpses laid, with the suspected looter handcuffed and generator at the back of the pickup truck conveying the health team.

The sorrow developed when the health team left the Redemption Hospital on a call received from community dwellers in Mango Town, Central Virginia about a dead body that lay in a house for three days. While in the community, I met a girl in tears, but upon seeing the health team, she escaped behind another house under the fear that she would be quarantined. Truly, she would have been quarantined because it was later established that she was the oldest sister of the 17-year old teenager who had died in her room for the past three days. Another sister, who later came to talk to reporters, said her brother, named by Elijah Cooper, who lived Clara Town, but later got sick, took refuge at their house. Here, he was taken to a nearby clinic and told that their brother was suffering from cold.

According to her, it was late Saturday night when her brother started to give up life and they all ran away from him, and locked the house. They made their way to their neighbor's house where they stayed for the past days. That fateful afternoon at about 6:30pm, I departed Virginia with the health team for the journey for Marshall in Margibi County, where the crematorium center, established in March 1986 by the honorary consul general of India and Liberia, is located. The health data had carried the total number of 13 dead bodies suspected to be Ebola victims for cremation.

At the center-just 10-minute drive from Marshall City in an isolated place, I saw a wall taller than a palm tree with some gentlemen dressed in their personal protective equipment or PPE, coming from a small house to make their way into the fence where the cremation takes place. Entering into the fence, I was cautioned against photo-taking by the gentlemen executing the cremation; I saw with my own eyes, wood bolder in group 5-feet high and gas in a five gallon-container, with buckets of butter in the fence. The gentlemen took the dead bodies and placed them in the woods, wasted the gas and put the butter on the bodies before setting them ablaze.

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