Cremation time is a big problem

Too bad India doesn’t have the secret Nazi technology that, according to anti-revisionists, allowed them to cremate Jewish bodies in a few minutes using a couple pounds of coal! Funny, how no one today has been able to equal that Nazi technology. A skeptic might wonder if the stories of Nazi crematory efficiency aren’t gross exaggerations.

Cremations nonstop in quake’s wake

  • DISASTER: The number of dead creates an overwhelming need.

January 31, 2001


The Associated Press

AHMEDABAD, India — An electric crematorium in this city was so overloaded that the hinges of the furnace door melted. Outside, wood-fired funeral pyres burned around the clock, overwhelming mourners with foul-smelling smoke.

“The bodies just keep coming in. Sometimes entire families, other times three or four members of a family,” said Syed Zain, the operator of the electric furnace at the Ellis Bridge Crematorium in central Ahmedabad.

The awesome human toll extracted by Friday’s earthquake in western India becomes obvious at Ahmedabad’s 11 crematoriums, which have been overwhelmed by the unending stream of bodies.

Hindus, the majority in India, believe that not cremating a body will leave the person’s soul in limbo — a fate worse than hell.

Zain said he has lost count of the number of bodies he has cremated. Besides those who died in Ahmedabad, people have brought corpses from nearby towns.

At the Ellis Bridge Crematorium, the registry clerk said that from an average of three to six cremations a day, the numbers had risen to about 50 a day.

“I have never seen anything like this in 22 years that I have worked in this crematorium. The number have mounted with each passing day,” said Zain, his eyes red with fatigue and fumes from the nearby wood-burning funeral pyres.

The proximity of the Ellis Bridge Crematorium to the V.S. Hospital, one of the city’s biggest, has meant that people who died of injuries have received the last rites here.

The electric furnace has been operating around the clock, Zain said. In the compound of the crematorium, 10 to 12 traditional funeral pyres of wooden logs burned continuously. At any given time, at least 10 or 12 bodies were being consigned to flames.

At the Saptarishi cremation ground, mourners lit incense sticks and threw sandalwood, sesame seeds and clarified butter into the flames in accordance with Hindu rituals. But the sweet combination could not hide the sulfurous, noxious smell of burning flesh.

The long wait and queues at the crematoriums have forced families to burn two or three bodies together.

Aslam Mansoori, the operator of the electric furnace at the Saptarishi crematorium, said it was so overworked after the earthquake that the hinges of its doors melted. The furnace had to be cooled down and the hinges replaced.

The electric furnace is maintained at more than 1,100 degrees Fahrenheit, but the temperature in its inner chamber goes up when corpses are burned.

In Bhuj, the town closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, workers used wood pulled from fallen houses to light funeral pyres.

The late-night hours are the most hectic, said A. B. Mehta, manager at the Dudheshwar Cremation Home, the city’s oldest facility. At night, bodies lying unclaimed in the hospital or found on the streets are brought to be burned.