Iraq War Overwhelming World's Largest Graveyard

Rogue gravediggers sneaking bodies into other people's plots: Wall Street Journal
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2014 2:42 PM CDT
Iraq War Overwhelming World's Largest Graveyard
Two people walk past tombs at the Wadi al-Salam cemetery in Najaf in this file photo.   (AP Photo/Alaa al-Marjani)

Just how bad is the violence in Iraq? So bad that the world's largest cemetery, a 1,500-acre area that contains 5 million graves, is running out of space, the Wall Street Journal reports. The war has doubled the rate of new arrivals to 200 a day, and some families are resorting to digging up sidewalks or stealing lots to cram their loved ones in. "It is just like the days when we had regular explosions in Baghdad," an undertaker says.

Wadi al-Salam, which means "Valley of Peace," is located in Najaf, around the mosque where Imam Ali, the Prophet Muhammad's son-in-law is buried. While local officials say they have room for thousands more graves, the desirable spaces close to the mosque are fast disappearing. Plots of 500 square feet now cost more than $10,000—up from $1,500 in 1991—though rogue gravediggers will sneak bodies into plots for far cheaper. "It has become a business to make money, like any other," laments one Najaf businessman. Click for the full story. (Read more Wadi al-Salam stories.)

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