Yemen gravediggers, bulldozer join forces against Covid

TAEZ, Yemen: Between the mountain ranges of Taez, dozens of fresh graves are being hastily dug in Yemen’s third city to deal with a spike in deaths from Covid-linked complications.
Groups of men, most of them wearing neither masks nor gloves, carry caskets to Al Saeed cemetery and its row upon row of new graves.
At the same time, a truck arrives, carrying mourners — along with more bodies.
People are struggling to bury their dead in the southwestern city amid a surge in cases of coronavirus that the war-torn country is badly equipped to combat.
Besieged for years by Ansar Allah fighters and their snipers, the gravediggers of Taez are under constant threat and cannot work fast enough. Health measures, such as wearing surgical rubber gloves to bury Covid-19 victims, are not a priority here.
“We are receiving nine or 10 bodies a day,” Shaban Qaed, a cemetery official, said.
“We brought in people from the marketplace to dig with us but still haven’t been able to keep up with demand for new graves, and we’ve had to hire a bulldozer.”
Men in traditional costume gathered around the last freshly-dug graves on Saturday for a funeral procession, with the rumble of a bulldozer at work in the background.
In other parts of the cemetery, women in black sat near the graves, reading from the Quran holy book.
The United Nations says the number of new Covid-19 infections in the impoverished country has more than doubled in past weeks. — AFP