Kingston Death Count Rises, Morgues Fill

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Jamaica Slum Standoff

As a siege intended to capture an elusive alleged drug kingpin continues in the slums near the Jamaican capitol city of Kingston, morticians are saying the body count is running so dangerously high that they may run out of space in their mortuaries.

“I am appealing to have post-mortems done urgently,” mortician Ferdinand Madden told the Jamaica Gleaner. He says his mortuary can only take 10 more bodies. The official body count remains at 44, but some estimates put it as high as 50 by counting including soldiers, police and civilians.

The five-day action so far hasn’t netted Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke, who stands accused by the U.S. of drug trafficking. Coke has been holed up in a compound in the Kingston neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens while his cohorts and supporters wage a gun battle with authorities attempting to arrest him for extradition to the U.S. A state of emergency remains in effect.

Meanwhile, Edward Seaga, the country’s former prime minister, is comparing the raid to the disastrous offensive in Tivoli Gardens in 2001, which claimed 24 lives in an attempt to seize weapons and criminals, calling it “an atrocity of the worst order.” He said the attempt to capture Coke has only resulted in people being cut off from necessary supplies and services.

“People have been calling for food and water, that they are not allowed to leave, and that they are penned in. It is a desperate situation and they are calling me. But I am powerless,” said Seaga, who also represented the district that includes Tivoli Gardens in parliament for four decades.