“All of the crises that we have experienced at this cemetery over the past 50 years of its history have lasted for just a few days or a week at most,” said Saeed Khaal, the cemetery’s manager. Never before — not during earthquakes or even the country’s 1980s war with Iraq — has the pace of bodies flowing into Behesht-e-Zahra been so high for so long, he said.
“Now we have been in a crisis for 260 days, and it is not clear how many months more we are going to be facing this crisis,” he said.
With 1.6 million people buried on its grounds, which stretch across more than 5 square kilometers (1,320 acres), Behesht-e-Zahra is one of the world’s largest cemeteries and the primary one for Tehran’s 8.6 million people. The golden minarets of its Imam Khomeini Shrine, the burial site of the leader of Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, are visible for kilometers (miles).
But it was not big enough for the coronavirus, which roared into Iran early this year, seeding the region’s worst outbreak.