Istanbul municipality looks to expand cemeteries as they near capacity

The Istanbul Municipality is looking to acquire more burial grounds, as the existing land will reach capacity within two decades, ANKA News Agency reported. The municipality is already taking precautions by transporting residents' bodies to their hometowns if possible.

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The Istanbul Municipality has requested that the Agriculture and Forestry Ministry and the Environment and Urbanization Ministry allocate additional burial grounds in the city, as the existing ones will run out in 15 to 20 years, municipal Cemeteries Director Dr. Ayhan Koç said. 

"We risk not being able to carry out new burials in 15 to 20 years if we don't get more land. We've already sent around 100 bodies back to the people's hometowns as a precaution," Koç told ANKA News Agency. 

It takes about 300,000 square-meters of land to bury all of Istanbul's dead each year, the director said, which is why they're shifting toward having residents transported back to their hometowns to be buried. 

"The project has continued despite the pandemic, and the number of bodies transported has nearly doubled. We transport 100 to 110 bodies across provinces almost every day because it's not easy to find burial ground in Istanbul."

The director also hopes that shifting the burial of Istanbul residents toward their hometowns will also give families a reason to visit these locations across Anatolia. 

Separately, COVID-19 deaths have been surging across Turkey, with the Health Ministry reporting on Dec. 9 a daily record of 217 patients who have died and 31,712 new cases.