15 Jul 2010

Marshall Islands' overcrowded Ebeye short of room for graves

6:36 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.

Our correspondent in Marshall Islands Giff Johnson says the population on Ebeye is estimated at more than 10-thousand people living on about 30 hectares of land but there are no public cemeteries.

He says some people are being forced to dig up existing graves and place new caskets on top, because there are few solutions to the problem.

"Promoting cremation is one possible solution, or at least to help with the issue. Developing community/public cemeteries would be another way to help with it."

But Giff Johnson says there will be difficulty in convincing landowners to designate land for a public graveyard, as there's been little support for the idea so far.