Iran Coronavirus: Mass graves pictured from space as death toll reaches 514

Snaps taken from the sky above the city of Qom, were the first cases of the virus in the reclusive country were declared last month, show a cemetery having recently been expanded in haste. Huge 300ft trenches have been dug to make way for bodies and a while substance is seen in the site, which expert believe could be lime. Hydrated lime and quicklime can slow the decay of human bodies. 

The photos were captured by Maxar Technologies, based in Colorado. 

They were taken of Behesht-e-Masoumeh complex on the outskirts of Qom, the spiritual centre of Iran’s ruling Shiite Muslim clerics. 

The city has a population of about 1.2 million and is situated about 80 miles south of Tehran. 

A mosque, a morgue and parks are also contained within the grounds of Behesht-e-Masoumeh. 

Snaps taken in October show vast sections appearing to be unused. 

A team of experts spoke to the Washington Post about the fast expanding graveyard. 

They said images showed many of the graves had not been used since October.

But in photos captured more recently, vast swathes of the cemetery appear to have been used. 

In the weeks after the presence of the virus was confirmed in the reclusive country, the Iranians dug tow large trenches, totalling 100 yards in length. 

By the beginning of March, a quadrant which was previously vacant looked to have been filled.  

Footage passed to the BBC’s Persian service in early March captured the moment workers buried a coronavirus victim at Behesht-e-Masoumeh. 

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The narrator in the video tell how two men are carrying a casket towards a part of the graveyard designated for people who have died of the virus. 

He says: “This is the section for coronavirus victims. 

“More than 80 [people] have been buried in this section so far, and they say only 34 deaths.” 

The man was referring to the official death toll on February 28. 

Iran is among the worst-hit countries by the outbreak of COVID-19.

On Thursday the official number rose by 75, marking the steepest jump in a single day. 

According to official figures,there are 11,364 Iranians infected and 514 dead. 

But some critics suspect the government of the secretive country is not being fully honest about the scale of the crisis. 

Iran has a population of about 80 million. 

A senior adviser to the Supreme Leader, members of parliament and a former diplomat are among the dead. 

Dozens of government officials including a vice president have been infected. 

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