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In Haiti, trucks bring cholera victims to mass grave

News freelance photojournalist Frank Thorp V writes: As a freelance journalist based in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, the harsh realities of life can appear when you least expect it. I was recently traveling around the city with a colleague when we came across a team of young men who were picking up bodies of Haitians who had died from the cholera epidemic. Cholera has already killed over 1,300 people in Haiti, and this group of men have been driving around the city filling their open air truck with body after body, many of which have been left on sidewalks or in the middle of the road.

After making a stop to pick up the body of a man that had died on a sidewalk just 200 feet from a hospital, they picked up another seven cholera victims at a nearby Cholera Treatment Center and then headed towards a newly dug mass grave. While NGOs and the Haitian government are working hard to have places to treat those who have contracted cholera, the numbers continue to rise due to a lack of knowledge about the disease and the lack of sanitation and clean water in poor communities. “It’s definitely increasing,” one of the body collectors explained to me last Thursday, Nov. 18, “On Monday we had five (bodies), Tuesday we had 12, and today we have 22.”

The growing number of dead has left the morgues overflowing, so the Haitian government has decided to utilize mass graves. Unfortunately, this is just the beginning. Mass graves will be the final resting place for hundreds more cholera victims from Port-au-Prince. “We’ll keep on putting bodies in here until it’s full,” one of the team members explained, “and then we’ll cover it with dirt and dig another one.”

Click here to read more from Thorp about the Hatian cholera epidemic.

See more pictures from Haiti and the outbreak of cholera.