Mass Graves Grow In Haiti NPR's Greg Allen visits the growing field of mass graves, where thousands of Haitians are being buried after last week's devastating earthquake.

Mass Graves Grow In Haiti

Mass Graves Grow In Haiti

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NPR's Greg Allen visits the growing field of mass graves, where thousands of Haitians are being buried after last week's devastating earthquake.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And in the Haitian capital, people are struggling to find some semblance of normalcy. They're finding bits and pieces here and there. Some gas stations reopened today and outdoor markets were busy. At the same time, dead bodies still wait to be picked up on the side of the road and tens of thousands of them are being buried in mass graves.

(Soundbite of a funeral procession)

SIEGEL: Today, a small funeral procession made its way up an avenue in Petionville.

As NPR's Greg Allen reports, funerals are rare in Haiti these days.

GREG ALLEN: Sabillia Seville(ph) died the day after the earthquake. Her daughter Francias Le Saint(ph) says it was from injuries received when stones and concrete blocks fell on her. Le Saint and her daughters were taking Seville for burial at the Petionville Cemetery. I asked if they considered leaving her body to be picked up for mass burial.

Ms. FRANCIAS LE SAINT: (Through Translator) Yeah, no. They have their own graveyard. They are not going to bury her by the road.

ALLEN: There are fewer bodies by the side of the road now, but every day more of the dead are pulled from the rubble and left out in the elements, waiting for pickup. Not far from the funeral procession, black smoke plumes up from a fire next to a building that's collapsed.

This is something you can see all over the city now in Port-au-Prince. We're in Petionville, near a store where they pulled some bodies out. They hadn't been picked up now, and people are burning them.

For days, large dump trucks have been roaming the city, picking up corpses. To find where they're going, we head north of the city. Several miles out of town, we begin seeing piles of rubble, some that also contain the bodies of earthquake victims.

Sixteen-year-old Saint-Pierre Peterson(ph) was picking through some of the rubble, looking for scrap metal.

Mr. SAINT-PIERRE PETERSON: (Through translator) Yeah, when the tractor pick them, they pick them along with the gravel. They just drop them here.

ALLEN: Most of the trucks carrying bodies are headed a few miles further, to a site the Haitian government has set aside to receive the dead.

About a half hour outside of Port-au-Prince, there's a place called Titania(ph). It's a large site where there's heavy equipment working, digging large mass graves. Drivers who pick up bodies around the city come out here in their dump trucks. They've already dumped many bodies here. No one can really say how many. Right now, there's several more large mass graves dug, and we're waiting for more bodies to be delivered.

Along with bodies, the dump trucks also bring rubble here. A backhoe digs through a pile of stone, concrete block and rebar, checking for earthquake victims.

No sooner is a pile of rubble dumped here than people from the area run in and start pulling pieces of scrap metal out here that they'll sell to try to make a living.

A large Haitian construction company is in charge of sorting through the rubble and bringing the dead here for burial.

Fulton Faulkier(ph) is a bulldozer operator. He says his home is destroyed. He, his wife and five children are sleeping out in the open. He doesn't like the work but says it's his job.

Mr. FULTON FAULKIER: (Through translator) Yesterday night, they buried 900 children. And for grownups, it was about 2,000.

ALLEN: This is the second mass gravesite open so far. The first one was filled with bodies and closed. Faulkier says he has no idea how many Haitians have been buried so far.

Nearby, one of the truck drivers, Lagos Chaperone(ph), is waiting to go out to pick up more rubble and more bodies. She says she doesn't find the work difficult, and I ask her, why not?

Ms. LAGOS CHAPERONE: (Through translator) Yes, because they are my fellow citizen. I cannot leave them in the street. We come to help them.

ALLEN: It's clear that Chaperone will be picking up earthquake victims for some time to come. Estimates of the dead range from 50,000 to 200,000 people. The workers here say they don't know how long the burial will continue, but they're making plans to open several more mass gravesites.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Port-au-Prince.

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