Amidst the social rancor and mixed feelings unfolding in Liberia as a result of the burial of Ebola-infected bodies in or near communities, nerve-racked residents of Boys’ Town Junction in Margibi County have confirmed that there have been at least two nightly cremations so far of dead bodies believed to be the remains of victims of the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).
Making the disclosure to the Daily Observer earlier this week, the residents said the first batch of dead bodies, totaling 12, were cremated at about 9 p.m., August 3, while the second batch, totaling eight, were cremated at about the same time on August 4, 2014.
Describing the atmosphere under which the dead bodies are being cremated, a resident, Moses Dayuegar, said on Sunday, August 3, a team of security personnel including, police officers and Armed Forces of Liberia (AFL) personnel, accompanied by health authorities and some government officials, escorted the first batch of deceased to be cremated.
Dayuegar said he and some members of the community were hired to assist the team in cremating the dead. The community assistant team basically helped to scatter the wood over the dead bodies in preparation for cremation.
Describing the scene, Dayuegar explained that all of the dead bodies were sealed up, and all members of the team were dressed in protective gear. He added that all of the community members who were hired to assist the team were also given protective gear.
“After the corpses were set on the pyre with wood, a butter-like substance and gasoline were poured on the corpses and set on fire,” Dayuegar divulged. "All of the protective gear were thrown in the fire to be burnt along with the dead bodies."
The cremations were carried out at a crematorium managed by Honorary Consul General of India, located one mile off the Robertsfield Highway leading towards Marshall. The crematorium was established in 1986 to facilitate the effective disposal of the bodies of Indian nationals and other people who see cremation as a preferable way to dispose of dead bodies.o
The area in which the Crematorium is located is fast being engulfed by residential homes. There is visible fear on the part of residents, who are apprehensive about the cremation of Ebola victims in their community.
A resident who requested anonymity complained that the team disposing of the dead bodies descended on their community to cremate the bodies without first sensitizing the residents. He said when they accosted the team, they were told that the team would return at a later date to discuss the issue with them. “We are still waiting to have that vital conversation, which would help allay the fears of the community members,” he said.
Rico Harvey, a youth leader on the Boys’ Town road, echoed the sentiment that the government should sensitize the locals properly prior to cremating the Ebola victims in their neighborhood. He was worried that owing to the high level of illiteracy in the area, the locals are now fraught with phobia and are harboring the notion that the cremation exercise could pose a health risk for them.
Efforts to have the Honorary Consul of India accredited near Monrovia comment on the matter did not materialize, as the voice at the other end of the phone said the Consul General was out of the country.
However, it can be recalled that last Thursday, July 31, the Indian Community offered the Liberian Government its crematorium for the cremation of all corpses of victims of the Ebola Virus Disease.
The Indians’ overture came on the heels of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s announcement to the nation on Wednesday, July 30, indicating that the Ministry of Health and relevant agencies are to consider the cremation of all victims of the deadly virus.