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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 August 2006, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK
Baghdad morgue count rises again
Iraqi brothers mourn the loss of their father in a Baghdad hospital morgue
The mortuary now receives up to 70 bodies a day
Officials at Baghdad mortuary say they received 1,855 bodies in July, as the capital remains gripped in a wave of violence which has beset it for months.

The figure - the highest yet - is a rise of more than 350 on June. Officials say about 90% of the deaths were as a result of violence.

The mortuary director told the BBC his staff could barely cope with the sheer numbers of corpses they received.

The death toll continued to rise on Wednesday with at least 23 more bodies.

Incidents included:

  • Five died in a drive-by shooting in western Baghdad, police said
  • Nine bodies were found dumped in streets around the capital
  • An explosion in Baquba, north of Baghdad, killed at least four people, police said
  • In Iraq's second city of Basra in the south, gunmen killed an Iraqi army colonel, Qasim Abdul Qadir, on his way to work
  • A bystander was killed in Baghdad in a roadside bomb apparently targeting a US patrol, police said
  • Three US soldiers assigned to the 1st Brigade, 1st Armoured Division were killed in the restive western Anbar province, the US military said
  • Divers are searching for two US troopers missing after their Blackhawk helicopter crashed into water in Anbar on Tuesday.

Unidentified bodies

The number of bodies delivered each month to the Baghdad mortuary has risen by almost 700 from January, when the figure was 1,068.

Observers put part of the blame on a wave of sectarian violence which followed the bombing of the al-Askari shrine in Samarra in late February. They caution the real death toll in Baghdad could be even higher.

January: 1,068
February: 1,110
March: 1,294
April: 1,155
May: 1,398
June: 1,500
July: 1,855
NB: Not all deaths were violent

The mortuary director, Dr Kase Hassan, told the BBC his staff could barely cope, and that many bodies were buried unidentified.

"The rate of bodies [we receive is] between 50 to 70 cadavers per day - about 90% of these are dead by militant injuries or by external injuries," he said.

"About 80% of the cadavers are unknown - this is a bigger problem."

The mortuary does not have the space to store so many unidentified bodies - and every week truckloads are taken away for mass burial.

Almost 12,000 extra troops have been drafted in to the capital to try to stem the violence.

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