The Maldives’ congested capital Malé has run out of burial space. The government has now announced plans to bury the dead at a new cemetery on an artificial island nearby.
Dead bodies will now be transported by sea to the airport island Hulhulé, and transferred over land to Hulhumalé, a reclaimed island located near the airport.
Relatives will be charged a fee for the new arrangement, Sheikh Ibrahim Ahmed from the Islamic Ministry said. Local media report that the fee amounts to MVR800 (US$52).
“A special ferry will take the casket and a group of family members to Hulhulé. From there, the body will be taken to the cemetery in an ambulance,” Ahmed said.
The Islamic ministry is considering bearing the cost for families that cannot afford the fee, he added. The cost will come out of the Zakat fund, a pot of religious tax money.
Islamic burial practices state that bodies must be buried six feet under the earth, and must not be stacked above others, a challenge for densely-populated Malé.
Lack of cemetery space, however, have forced double and even triple burials but with a layer of six feet of soil in between bodies.
At the Aasahara cemetery, the last burial ground in Malé, the dead have been buried in two layers. The third will only be used for emergencies, Ibrahim said.