Coronavirus: Birmingham Airport mortuary work under way

Birmingham AirportImage source, West Midlands Police
Image caption,
The force said it is "vital" the right facilities were in place

Work to turn part of Birmingham Airport into a mortuary able to store at least 1,500 bodies has begun.

Bosses previously said discussions were under way, but West Midlands Police confirmed the project had started.

An airport spokesperson said it was working to provide land and a hangar for the temporary morgue.

Police said there was "scope to expand" the starting capacity of 1,500, as the region prepared for a predicted rise in coronavirus deaths.

The force said regional mortuaries may close as staff were transferred to the new facility, which could eventually accommodate all deaths across the West Midlands.

This would include those unrelated to coronavirus, it said.

The force said it would do everything possible to accommodate religious requirements and that it was "vital" to give people "the utmost dignity and respect" at all times.

Senior coroner for Birmingham, Louise Hunt, said: "We understand that it is a very difficult time for everyone and we will do all that we can to make sure bereaved families understand what is happening to their loved ones and to release them for funeral as soon as we can."

Assistant Chief Constable Vanessa Jardine said public sector agencies and their partners were working together "to better deal with this challenge... at a critical time of need".

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