Liberians abandon their dead in hospital, as hospital threatens mass burial

Authorities at Liberia's largest hospital have announced they will bury 15 unclaimed bodies by Friday unless they are claimed.

They died between March and June this year at the John F Kennedy Memorial Medical Center but have not been claimed by relatives, the hospital's chief administrator Dr Jerry Brown told state radio on Wednesday.

"We are planning to dispose of the bodies through a funeral home," he said, adding that they may not all be dumped into a single grave.

Dr Brown said those who died between the end of June and August are being excluded from the planned mass burial to give their relatives more time to collect them.

The rapid economic decline in Liberia has resulted in rising costs of living. Many Liberians cannot afford the expense of funerals.

The hospital is unable to preserve bodies for a long period of time because of limited capacity and lack of proper refrigeration in the 46-year-old morgue, Dr Brown said.

He added that the hospital now lacks many essential things and relies on local vendors for drugs supplies.

According to Dr Brown, the hospital currently owes vendors $50,000 (£41,000) in payment for drugs supplied to the hospital.

The John F Kennedy Memorial Medical Center was opened in the early 1970s and at the time was an iconic health centre for West Africa.

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