A video circulating on social media shows a large number of empty graves in the Shia holy city of Qom ready for mass burials, suggesting the death toll from coronavirus is higher than what Iranian authorities claim.
“This is the ‘crisis’ section of the cemetery. This is only one part of it. There is another part higher up. There are graves as far as an eye can see. They are ready for burials,” the man filming the cemetery is heard saying.
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The video is from Qom’s Behesht-e Masoumeh cemetery.
The head of the cemetery, Seifoddin Mousavi, confirmed on Saturday the existence of a section dubbed “Crisis” at the cemetery.
He claimed, however, that this section was built during the past four years rather than after the coronavirus outbreak.
This section was built for situations where “a large number of citizens are left dead,” Mousavi told the semi-official Fars news agency.
While this section is not special to coronavirus victims, they will be buried in it based on orders from the government, he went on to say.
Experts and some public officials have consistently cast doubt on the official coronavirus figures in Iran.
While the official death toll from the virus for the whole country stood at 12 on February 24, a lawmaker from Qom said on the same day that 50 people had died from coronavirus in his city alone.
Another lawmaker from Gilan province had also said that the death toll from coronavirus in Iran is “much higher” than the official death toll.
“I have statistics about the number of deaths due to coronavirus from three different cemeteries in Rasht and I have to say that the numbers are much higher than what is being said,” he said.
Iran’s death toll from coronavirus has reached 724, with 113 new deaths in the past 24 hours, an Iranian health official tweeted on Sunday, adding that some 13,938 people have been infected across the country.