Guidelines for the effective conduct of mass burials following mass disasters: post-Asian Tsunami disaster experience in retrospect

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Abstract

The frequency of mass disasters is increasing, demanding actions that deal with these promptly and effectively to secure human interests. An undeniable and inevitable reality of any mass disaster is the massive number of fatalities, which will give rise to a further chain of events ranging from the recovery of the deceased, to their transport, storage, identification and, finally, disposal. Past experience has shown that traditional human disposal methods should be redesigned according to the requisites of mass fatality scenarios, and it has been proven that a proper mass burial is by far the most appropriate and standard method for disposal of the dead due to mass disasters as it takes all its practical issues into consideration. A mass burial can be defined as burying more than one deceased of a single or related incident in a single grave or multiple graves simultaneously or separately within a restricted time period in a single or multiple burial sites located within an identified geographical area. In the present context, it is an utmost necessity that we develop uniform detailed guidelines for the proper conduct of mass burials that provide the deceased with all due respect to human dignity, as this will enable these guidelines to be incorporated into future national mass disaster management schemes as an integral component.

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