An underground crematorium in central Russia was found to have continued burning human remains despite being shut down by authorities two years ago, the Znak.com news website reported Monday.
The outlet said it initiated an inspection in 2019 of an illegal site near two major Kurgan city hospitals 2,000 kilometers east of Moscow. The inspection led to the site's operators being fined and liquidated at the time.
A Znak.com journalist returned to one of the underground crematorium's shuttered sites after residents complained of a foul smell in the area in October 2021.
“There, the correspondent found dozens of bags with bloodstained sheets, entrails, expired drugs and an improvised concrete oven,” the outlet wrote. “We saw plastic buckets with syringe needles and scattered yellow bags with biomedical waste logos.”
“There was a pungent chemical smell in the air,” it added. “The entire space around the site was filled with a disgusting, slightly sweet medical smell, sparks and tongues of fire formed out of a duct, thick smoke was spreading on the ground.”
Znak.com said it initiated a new inspection by the authorities, which found the crematorium to be abandoned after facing initial difficulties with gaining access to the site.
“The creepiest finding was a tall yellow container with packages which, when opened, security forces found literally filled to the brim with disemboweled internal organs,” it reported.
Znak.com said it identified Tyumen-based business owner Dmitry Zhidkov, one of whose companies receives medical waste contracts, as a possible owner of the illegal crematorium.
A local deputy said Kurgan’s municipal lawmakers had at one point approved a medical waste disposal facility around the site of the underground crematorium, according to Znak.com.
The mayor’s office said it had not received applications to approve the crematorium’s location, while regional authorities did not respond to Znak.com’s requests for comment.