It's been 10 months since Iraq declared victory over ISIS in Mosul, but the bodies are still being collected. Volunteers are slowly combing over what the UN estimates to be 8 million tons of rubble—enough to form three separate piles as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza—to recover the bodies of civilians and ISIS fighters responsible for a putrid smell in the air. "We only stop when it gets too dark or we get too tired," nurse Sroor Al-Hosayni tells the BBC. She says city officials suggested allowing stray dogs to eat the corpses, per USA Today. "I told them there were not enough dogs," she says. "There are thousands of bodies." Hidden dangers, like unexploded bombs and suicide vests, are complicating efforts. A doctor tells USA Today some volunteers have been injured in the collection of 860 bodies so far.
The corpses pose health risks for others, too. The World Health Organization has warned those living downstream of Iraq's second-largest city are at risk of gastroenteritis from remains around the Tigris River. Yet rebuilding is already a focus. Though it will take a year just to clear the site, Mosul is preparing to rebuild the Al-Nouri Mosque and 800-year-old Al-Hadba Minaret, destroyed by ISIS fighters, with a $50 million donation from the United Arab Emirates, reports the New York Times. A resident of Mosul's Old City, almost entirely destroyed by fighting, feels officials might be jumping the gun. "While there are many historic buildings officials need to preserve and protect, the government should do something to help the volunteers who have been working so hard," Shihab Ahmed tells USA Today. (Read more Mosul stories.)