Muslim volunteers establish makeshift mortuary in Mosque car park

Coffins arrive at makeshift coronavirus morgue in a Birmingham mosque car park where 150 bodies from city’s Islamic community can be stored before traditional Muslim burial

  • Community leaders in Birmingham have established a mortuary in a car park
  • The Asian community in the West Midlands is badly affected by Covid-19 
  • The mortuary was established at the Central Jamai Mosque in Small Heath
  • Five fridges have been set up in the car park with a capacity for 150 bodies  
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

These are the distressing images of dozens of coffins stacked on top of each other in a makeshift morgue in the car park of a mosque.

Sobering images of dozens of coffins stacked on top of each other give a rare insight inside a makeshift morgue which has been set up in the car park of a mosque.

The Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham, has created the temporary facility which can hold up to 150 bodies at a time.

A large tent containing five fridges was erected three weeks ago to deal with the high death toll from coronavirus involving the city’s Asian community.

Chilling images of coffins stacked up high inside the tent show the grim reality of the Cov-19 fatality numbers.

It is believed to be one of the first glimpses inside a makeshift morgue which have been springing up across Britain.

Officials at the Central Jamia Mosque Ghamkol Sharif in Small Heath, Birmingham, have established a temporary mortuary in the car park to cope with the number of people dying from Covid-19

Volunteers have been taking Muslim coronavirus victims from hospitals, storing them in refrigerators before burying them in accordance with the Islamic faith

The mosque has a capacity to deal with 150 bodies with five fridges for storing remains 

Other stark photographs shows specially trained volunteers wearing full protective equipment unloading deliveries of coffins from a van.

Volunteers have been taking Muslim coronavirus victims from hospitals, storing them in refrigerators before burying them in accordance with the Islamic faith.

Mosque trustee and volunteer Mohamid Zahid, 52, said families are allowed to shroud their relatives and do a full body wash, but few are now opting to do so.

The organic food shop owner and grandfather-of-two stepped in to help his brother who runs a Muslim funeral service next to the mosque.

Mr Zahid said: ‘We are doing this because of the high death rate of Muslims from Covid-19 and of people in the West Midlands.

‘To keep the coronavirus deaths separate from the normal ones we have set up a morgue outside. It is more of a storage place before burial.

‘There are five fridges and two are being used. If other places run out of storage for bodies the facilities are here if needed.

‘Each fridge can hold 50 bodies and we can store 150 in total – but God forbid that happens.

‘We have plenty of stock of coffins in different sizes. We are working closely with our suppliers.

‘The hospitals tell us how tall and wide someone is and we choose the right size. We are on the front line picking up bodies from hospitals and readying them for burial.

‘We volunteers are giving our spare time to help my brother who’s the director of the funeral service.

‘We are one of the oldest funeral services in Birmingham and one of the biggest in the UK.

‘Some days there are two or three right up to eight volunteers and we are all PPE trained.

Volunteers have been unloading empty coffins from a van so they can be made available when needed by a grieving family

The volunteers are wearing full protective equipment in an effort to reduce the risk of transmitting the killer virus

The volunteers collect bodies from hospitals before bringing them to the facility to prepare them for burial

‘It takes pressure off the NHS and helps people who were upset they would not be able to see their relatives since the mosque is closed and now only six or seven are allowed at the funerals.

‘It is the same for everybody who loses a loved one, it is very hard for families at the moment. Grieving is going to have to wait to come out.

‘I couldn’t go to two of my aunties’ funerals in Sheffield and London. I could only speak to my relatives about it on the phone.

‘It is up to families to decide whether they want to shroud the bodies and do a full body wash, some are doing it if they wear PPE and take all precautions.

‘According to the hospitals the bodies are safe once they’ve been dead for a few days.

‘I think a lot of people are scared and I’m frightened myself. When I come home I take my shoes and socks off and go straight in the shower.

‘I’m putting myself and my family at risk but we think this is our duty. I think this is an appropriate way of doing it to provide dignity to families and the deceased.’

Meanwhile, a temporary mortuary is to be created at Southampton Airport to handle the rising number of deaths linked to Covid-19.

Hampshire County Council has announced plans for the facility to be set up in a secure part of the airport, which still runs daily lifeline flights to the Channel Islands.

The mortuary will serve Hampshire, Portsmouth and Southampton, with separate arrangements being made for the Isle of Wight.

Simon Bryant, the local authority’s director of public health, said: ‘Local partner organisations across the wider Hampshire region are working closely together to ensure arrangements are in place to support communities during this difficult time.

‘Integral to our planning is the need to ensure the area is equipped with additional mortuary space, should we need it.

‘While I understand that people may be concerned about this development, it is important that we are well prepared.’

He added: ‘I would like to reassure the families and friends that their loved ones will be afforded every possible respect and that we have been liaising closely with faith leaders to ensure that required customs and practices will be observed at all times.’


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