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Unclaimed bodies cause 'catastrophe' at Namibia hospital morgue

Unclaimed bodies cause 'catastrophe' at Namibia hospital morgue

Namibia

The police mortuary at the Windhoek Central Hospital in Namibia’s capital has received bodies more than triple its capacity creating a crisis at the hospital in the city.

The 24-body capacity mortuary now holds 180 bodies, most of them unclaimed, forcing authorities to pile them on top of each other, on trolleys and on the floor, local media, Namibian Sun reports on Thursday.

The head of the Namibian Police’s forensic pathology division, Deputy Commissioner Jooste Mbandeka said the situation at the mortuary is “catastrophic and in more than two decades of working at the mortuary it was never like this.”

He explained to the paper that the facility was designed to store 24 fresh bodies in addition to six decomposed bodies.

The overcrowded police mortuary, according to the workers at the hospital, has affected the refrigerator which is causing decomposition of the bodies and pungent smell posing health risks.

The Namibian police released a statement last week calling those missing relatives to identify and collect their bodies at the mortuary to create space.

Warrant officer Oscar Shatipamba, the head of forensic pathology based at the police mortuary, told local media, The Namibian, that they cannot do any autopsies now because there is no space.

He said he received a list with 10 more people on Tuesday who are being kept at the state mortuary and need to be brought in for autopsies.

Deputy Commissioner Jooste Mbandeka further explained that the police do not have a budget for burial or cremation services and the mortuary receives bodies of people from other regions who die of unnatural causes.

He added that following numerous requests for assistance, police authorities informed the mortuary that an arrangement was being considered to solve the problem.

The last mass burial was conducted in 2012, and it cost the government about N$120,000 (USD 8114).