The Libyan authorities resorted to burying dozens of bodies in mass graves in the city of Derna under the pretext of overcoming potential health threats, although it is a process that poses great psychological and legal pressure on the authorities and the families of the deceased, especially since its potential risks are almost minimal except in exceptional cases, according to international organizations.
Although mass burials are motivated by the disposal of potential health risks to bodies scattered under the rubble, at the same time they can be harmful to the population, international organizations say.
According to the International Society of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and the World Health Organization, rapid burial exposes authorities and communities to significant psychological pressure, as well as social and legal problems for victims' families.
According to these organizations, the principle is that the "well-managed" burial process should include individual graves that can be easily traced and properly audited, and that this should ensure that the exact location, information and personal belongings of each body are known.
As a general rule, the same organizations say that death from natural disasters does not cause health risks because victims die by drowning or as a result of injuries or burns; and therefore are not carriers of germs that can cause epidemics.
According to this rule, the bodies of victims of natural disasters pose little health risk, except for deaths from infectious diseases or as a result of a disaster in an area where such diseases are prevalent, where the presence of bodies in or near water raises health concerns due to discharge and contamination of water sources, leading to the risk of disease.
A spokeswoman for the World Health Organization said the bodies were not the main cause of the danger, but all the mud and chemicals in the water.
International health and relief organization protocols recommend not leaving bodies near drinking water sources and protecting and disinfecting these sources, which is sufficient to prevent communicable diseases.
According to emergency responders, the risk of spreading health risks lies in the survivors of natural disasters themselves who can spread diseases, so they are advised not to rush into the process of mass burial or cremation, because rushing to do so does not provide any benefit to public health.