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Temporary morgue to be transformed into wildflower meadow in tribute to Covid-19 victims

A temporary mortuary will be turned into a wildflower meadow in honor of those who died during the pandemic.

The Wanstead Flats site in east London, one of six emergency morgues to be erected at the height of the health crisis, was opened in April to help store the bodies of Covid-19 victims.

However, as the death rate declined, the decision was made to dismantle the building so that the four-acre spot near Epping Forest could be “reseeded with native species.”

Wildflowers such as sheep sorrel, daisy, knapweed and heather will be planted, as well as grasses such as fescues, curvatures and the rare heather and mats.

The City of London Corporation, which owns the land, said it plans to open the meadow to the public next summer.

Graeme Doshi-Smith, chairman of the Epping Forest and Society Commons committee, said: “While the coronavirus is likely still with us for a long time and we must not be complacent, the withdrawal of the mortuary is a welcome sign of the green shoots of normal life starting to return to our open spaces.

“In the coming weeks, our teams will prepare the soil before sowing the soil with a mixture of wildflower seeds, including seeds collected from neighboring areas of the forest.

“When it grows up, the prairie will provide a rich habitat for visitors and wildlife, and will mark a natural and lasting reminder of those who lost their lives to the coronavirus.”

The Wanstead Flats site was used as a prisoner of war camp during World War II, housing Italians and Germans.

In 2018, a grass fire on the ground during a heatwave in July was fought by more than 200 firefighters, with 40 fire trucks rushing to the scene.

It was believed to be the largest such fire ever handled by London firefighters, with the affected area equivalent to around 150 football pitches.

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