The medical forensic service (Semefo) morgue in Acapulco has been the target of complaints. The medical forensic service (Semefo) morgue in Acapulco has been the target of complaints.

‘It’s a morgue. It won’t smell like perfume,’ says director after neighbors complain

If the smell of cadavers was harmful to health, 'we'd all be sick'

Complaints about fetid odors emanating from the Acapulco morgue have prompted a no-nonsense response from the facility’s director: “There are 250 bodies there, it won’t smell like perfume.”

A morgue will always smell no matter how clean it is kept, Ben Yehuda Martínez Villa told the newspaper Reforma after residents of the resort city’s Progreso neighborhood complained.

He also said there is no evidence that the smell of cadavers is harmful to human health.

“We would all be sick. I’ve been working at the morgue for more than 30 years, … if [the smell] was harmful, a colleague would have already died,” Martínez said.

He acknowledged that only three of the morgue’s five refrigerated chambers are currently in operation because the doors of two of them don’t close properly. For that reason, 100 bodies were recently transferred to the morgue in Chilpancingo, Martínez said.

Overcrowding in morgues is not just a problem in Guerrero, the state where Acapulco is located, but across the country, the director added.

High levels of violent crime in Mexico mean there is a constant stream of bodies to government-run morgues. One that has struggled to meet demand for its services is that in Tijuana, the country’s most violent city.

There are currently more than 52,000 unidentified bodies in morgues, according to data disseminated by Movimiento por Nuestros Desaparecidos (Movement for Our Missing People), a non-governmental organization.

With reports from Reforma 

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