Wanted: Mobile mortuary facility to handle 100 bodies

The Government is putting in a contingency plan for a major disaster by commissioning the creation of a massive mobile mortuary capable of handling at least 100 bodies.

It is intended the structure could be deployed, erected, and made operational anywhere in the country within 48 hours of a major incident or accident, and would be capable of sustaining round-the-clock activity for weeks or possibly months.

Specifications for the facility, which has to be capable of withstanding force-11 gales, include a mortuary area of 1,500sq m; a chilled body storage area of 1,500sq m capable of holding 100 bodies and extendable in case of greater numbers of fatalities; and 2,000sq m of support and administration space.

The Department of the Environment, which is running a tendering process for the facility, would not say what it is likely to cost but the successful contractor will be paid for designing and building it, an annual retainer for storage and maintenance, and fees for transporting, erecting, and dismantling it.

No specific incident or accident is anticipated but the idea comes from the recommendations of the national Framework for Major for Emergency Management which was updated in 2006 following the increase in international terrorist attacks that followed 9/11.

The framework noted there were mass fatalities in the past in Ireland which if repeated would stretch regular mortuary facilities beyond capacity.

They include the Whiddy Island ship explosion in 1979 in which 50 people died and the Air India disaster in 1985 in which 329 people died.

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