Men Dig Up Coffin of Suspected Ebola Victim, Place on Highway in Protest

At least fifteen young men dug up the casket of a suspected Ebola victim in Liberia and placed it in the middle of a busy highway towards Roberts International Airport--a highly trafficked airport close to the capital, Monrovia--authorities in the area report.

According to a report in the Liberian Observer, the coffin belonged to the mother of a soldier in the Armed Forces of Liberia and had previously sparked some controversy. The soldier's request for her burial was denied despite his claim she died from hypertension because he could not prove she did not die from Ebola. Liberia has imposed significant restrictions on the burial of Ebola victims to contain the spread of the virus.

“When he told me that, I immediately proceeded there,” said G. Richmon Kanean, chairman of the affected community. He continued:

I was told that the casket had been there by the dug hole since midday and that the body had arrived by around 8:45 p.m. Those who were on the scene when the police car and the other cars came, told me when I got there, that they had already removed the body, which was wrapped in the Ebola body plastic, put it in the casket, closed it and had it in the grave they dug earlier in the day. They were even covering the hole. I got vexed with the young people who were around because I had told them [earlier that day] that when the body comes, it should not be buried without them producing a certificate.

Kanean left, but the young men accused him of bringing Ebola to the community on purpose. After he returned home, the police called him again. The same young men “dug up the casket and placed it in the middle of the road.”

The Liberian Observer attempted to reach the police all day, but no one answered the phones. Therefore, no one knows exactly why the young men did this or if they are related to the woman or the soldier. Kanean said everyone needs to avoid the young men who were in contact with the dead body in case the woman died of Ebola. Africa’s funeral practices are one of the many reasons why there is an Ebola outbreak. The relatives prefer to wash and embrace the dead body even if the person died of a contagious disease.

One officer did tell the Observer everything Kanean said was correct. Others remarked Ebola will never leave Liberia if people “are playing with things that are clearly marked ‘Ebola.’”


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