Birmingham Airport Hangar Is Being Converted To A Temporary Mortuary With Capacity For Up To 12,000 Bodies

The Guardian has just reported that part of Birmingham Airport in the UK is currently being converted to an interim mortuary that would allow to temporarily keep up to 12,000 bodies.

The facility will be housed into an old hangar building and is a reaction to a sharp rise in Covid19 deaths in the region and the capacity of regular mortuaries apparently can’t keep up.

It’s a pretty grim thought that we have now reached the point where airport facilities are converted to store bodies. These are scenes we usually know from movies, not from the daily news.

You can access the original article from The Guardian here.

A temporary mortuary is being put in place at Birmingham airport with space for up to 12,000 bodies amid growing concern over the speed at which the virus is spreading in the West Midlands.

The airport is next to Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre, which had been mooted as a location for a temporary field hospital.

The hangar facility will initially have space for 1,500 bodies, “but will expand to hold more”, according to the West Midlands and Warwickshire strategic coordination group, made up of police, councils and other agencies.

The West Midlands has seen another sharp rise in deaths after becoming a hotspot for transmissions of the virus earlier this week. …

Up to twelve thousand – that’s a massive number! Imagine the total number of people at your company and then scale this up to 12k. Frightening!

The BBC reported that coroners can’t keep up with the numbers of bodies should the worst case happen.

… 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”.

It’s not clear what the procedure is in these cases. Is it mandatory in the UK to perform an autopsy? That would be impossible when the cases mount to the dimension that bodies need to be stored in an airport hangar.

Also how about releasing the body? Is it possible to have a funeral of ones own choosing or is cremation required as the body is a biohazard?


Developments like these won’t do much to reassure people that the government is in control. An airport hangar? Even after the Coronavirus crisis is over the airport will forever have the bitter footnote that it was once used as a mass mortuary.

Hopefully the UK government can manage things to the degree that these scenarios never come true!

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