Saturday, September 10, 2005
Slothful Pentagon Jobs-out Temporary Building Service for Morgue. Even Worse, TOO SHIFTLESS TO PITCH IN AN AIRPLANE AND HELP TRANSPORT THE DAMN THING
By Ian Bickerton in Amsterdam
Published: September 8 2005 23:03 Last updated: September 8 2005 23:03
US authorities have contracted De Boer, a Dutch company that is the world's biggest supplier of temporary accommodation, to fly in a temporary mass mortuary to the New Orleans area.
The US confirmed on Thursday that it is braced for the discovery of more than 10,000 bodies following Hurricane Katrina.
The temporary morgue is capable of holding 10,000 bodies but the US Federal Emergency Management Agency has told De Boer to be ready to increase its capacity to accommodate more fatalities, according to Koos Tesselaar, the company chairman.
We have been talking to the US authorities daily. It started with [an order for] a much smaller facility, two days after the event, for 500 bodies, and it was scaled up to 10,000 now, Mr Tesselaar said. My feeling is that there might be more needed soon. That is the impression I get from the discussions we have had. They have indicated that we should be prepared to offer more.
De Boer will begin transporting the 600-tonne structure, which when erected will cover an area of 10,000 to 20,000 sq metres, by air from Ostend Airport, Belgium, on Saturday.
The company is also flying out accommodation to house up to 2,500 people involved in all aspects of the operation, not only those who work in the morgue.
The mortuary will remain for between three and six months during the slow and painful process of recovering and identifying victims, he said. Estimates of the death toll have varied widely, but on Thursday a Louisiana state official said Fema had made ready 25,000 body bags for the clean-up.
De Boer, based in Alkmaar, north of Amsterdam, supplies structures ranging from marquees to warehouses to clients including airports, exhibition organisers and refugee aid agencies.
The company was recommended to the US authorities by the UK Home Office, which had contracted De Boer to supply the mortuary to deal with the victims of the London terrorist bombings in July that killed more than 50 people. But the Dutch company said the New Orleans aid operation was straining international air-freight logistics. It has hired one aircraft to fly four trips at two-day intervals."