By Spy Uganda Correspondent
Authorities in Tanzania are exhuming 220 dead bodies from a flooded graveyard in its largest commercial city Dar es Salaam and relocating them on higher grounds in the wake of cascading flood water, an official said.
Dozens of bodies are reportedly washed away by floods after heavy rains pounded the crammed neighborhood in the East African country.
Eyewitnesses saw a horde of Dar es Salaam city workers dressed in blue jumpsuits briskly digging the tombs and exhuming the bodies in the city’s Vingunguti suburb.
The exercise, which involved draping the bodies in white sheets and placing them in caskets in line with Christian tradition of burial, evoked sad feelings among relatives who bitterly wept as the remains were loaded on a truck.
Omari Kumbilamoto, the Dar es Salaam city mayor, said the decision to exhume the bodies and relocate them had been reached in consultation with families who wished their loved ones to be buried elsewhere.
“We are relocating these graves because people feared they would be washed away as the Msimbazi river keeps on widening,” Kumbilamoto said.
According to him, the ongoing exercise to exhume the bodies from Butiama areas, which is affected by soil erosion, and rebury them at Mwanagate area 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away will cost estimated 200 million Tanzanian shillings ($87,000).
“We have set aside a budget for this exercise because obviously, people couldn’t afford these costs,” Kumbilamoto said.
“We have paid grave diggers to do all the work. Bereaved families are only here to witness the process of relocating the remains of their loved ones,” he said.
“I feel relieved to see the remains of my late mother relocated to a safe place,” Lilian Fuime, a resident of Dar es Salaam, said.