May 7, 2020 / 11:14 PM / 23 days ago

In clash with riot police, Hondurans block burial of coronavirus victim

Residents block a road as they protest against the burial of a person suspected of having died of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at a local cemetery in Tegucigalpa, Honduras May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Jorge Cabrera

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Residents of an impoverished part of the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, clashed with riot police on Thursday after blocking the burial of a person suspected of having died from the novel coronavirus, according to a Reuters witness.

The Central American country has so far reported 1,461 coronavirus cases, many of them in the capital, and 99 deaths. Residents said their neighborhood lacked adequate sanitation for such burials.

Riot police fired tear gas when the residents armed with rocks burned tires and blocked a road leading to the Amor Enterno Cemetery with stones and construction material in the La Era neighborhood, the witness said.

“There’s no water here. Here we’re hungry but what they bring us is disease and death,” a woman who did not give her name told local television. “We’re not going to let them pass. We’re afraid.”

Raul Mejia, who led the police forces, told television: “We were ordered to withdraw. We don’t want to cause harm to the residents.”

Mejia said there should be a separate cemetery for people dying from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

Honduran authorities had imposed a curfew in mid-March, suspending schools, universities, non-essential public services and private businesses in an attempt to curb the spread of the pandemic. It is scheduled to end on May 17.

Reporting by Jorge Cabrera and Gustavo Palencia; Editing by Peter Cooney

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