15 Jul 2010

Marshalls' Ebeye Island has no more space to bury its dead

1:39 pm on 15 July 2010

An urban centre in the Marshall Islands with one of the highest population densities in the Pacific has run out of room to bury its dead.

The Kwajalein Senator and traditional leader, Michael Kabua, says the problem has reached a crisis point on Ebeye Island.

Ebeye, home to the 1,000 Marshall Islanders who work at the United States Army's Kwajalein missile range five kilometres away, has a population estimated at greater than 10,000 living on 31 hectares of land.

As a chief for Ebeye and the surrounding islands of Kwajalein Atoll, Mr Kabua is responsible for burials and other matters involving land use.

Mr Kubua says all of Ebeye's cemeteries are full and there is no place to bury people and says there are four funerals in progress this week.

People are being forced to dig up existing graves and put new caskets in on top of the remains already buried.

The Kwajalein leader says he has told US army officials that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.