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Dublin: 12°C Tuesday 24 November 2020

Mexican police find 60 corpses left rotting in abandoned crematorium

*WARNING* This story contains images that some people may find distressing.

*WARNING* This story contains images below that some people may find distressing.

MEXICAN POLICE HAVE found 60 bodies, including children, that were left rotting in an abandoned crematorium that closed months ago in the Pacific resort of Acapulco, authorities said.

Authorities made the grim discovery of bodies covered in white sheets, some piled on top of each other, late yesterday after neighbours called police to complain about the stench coming from the “Cremations of the Pacific” building.

Source: Bernandino Hernandez/AP/PA

Worried relatives who had hired the funeral home's services to cremate family members went to Acapulco's morgue, asking authorities to check whether their loved ones were among the abandoned bodies.

The fading resort has been plagued by drug gang violence whose victims are regularly found around the city, but authorities indicated that they were investigating violations of the handling of cadavers in this case.

"Among the 60 bodies that were found, there are cadavers of women, men and children that are perfectly embalmed ... (and) prepared for cremation," the Guerrero state prosecutor's office said in a statement.

Source: Bernandino Hernandez/AP/PA

Officials had initially reported that they had found 61 bodies.

Prosecutors opened an investigation into crimes including the desecration of bodies and violating burial and exhumation regulations.

Lime to cover stench 

The bodies were covered in white sheets that were brown from what appeared to be fluid from the decomposing corpses. Some corpses were piled on top of each other.

Lime was scattered on the bodies and around the crematorium in an apparent bid to mask the stench, but neighbors said they began to detect a nauseating smell two days ago.

Source: Bernandino Hernandez/AP/PA

The crematorium closed a year ago "due to bankruptcy or failure to pay debts to creditors," the prosecutor's office said, identifying the owner as Guillermo Estua Zardain.

"By not cremating the cadavers, federal, state and municipal health laws were broken," the statement said.

Forensic experts are examining the bodies to determine the cause and date of death. A senior state police official told AFP the bodies were in advanced state of decay.

Investigators have asked directors of local funeral homes to indicate whether they sent any corpses to the crematorium since 2013 in order to identify them.

Around 20 security forces were guarding the small, green-roofed crematorium early Friday.

Anxious relatives 

Local residents, who asked to remain anonymous, said they never noticed any unusual activity in the building and never saw any suspicious people in the area.

"We called (the emergency number) 066 because the smell became unbearable," said one neighbor. "Everything is calm here. I didn't know the crematorium was closed but we hadn't seen people go in and out."

Source: Bernandino Hernandez/AP/P

David Jaimes, who had hired the crematorium nine months ago after his mother died, went to the city's Medical Forensic Service to ask them to analyse the ashes that were handed to him.

"I saw the furnace turned on and my mother lying there, but I never saw them put her inside," Jaimes told AFP.

"The gentleman who was there told us 'get out if you want because this place is dangerous.' We left but we never saw the body go in, so we have this doubt today," he said.

Karina Garcia Jacinto, who paid around $400-$470 in December 2013 to cremate her father's body, went to the morgue with his death certificate.

"It's a concern that we have, as family members, to see if our relatives are there," she said.

Source: Bernandino Hernandez/AP/PA

Guerrero state chief prosecutor Miguel Angel Godinez said earlier that it was unclear whether gang violence was linked to the case.

Acapulco is in Guerrero state, where authorities say 43 college students were abducted by corrupt police and handed over to the Guerreros Unidos drug gang, whose henchmen killed and incinerated the victims in September.

- © AFP 2015.

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