New satellite images show Iranian authorities digging large numbers of graves in the city of Qom area, which media say is due to the growing numbers of coronavirus victims in the country.
US media reported that the graves were so extensive you can see them from space. Members of parliament, a former diplomat and a senior adviser to the Supreme Leader are believed to be among the dead. At least two dozen other officials, including a vice-president, have been infected, media said.
Last month, authorities said that they would prepare more graves in response to coronavirus. Islamic customs call for swift burials that often happen within 24 hours of death.
Most of the cases of the global pandemic have been in China. With more than 16,000 coronavirus infections and 988 deaths on Tuesday, Iran has been hardest hit by the virus after China and Italy.
The authorities have also ordered the release of 85,000 prisoners in an effort to counter the spread of the virus.
The country has been repeatedly criticized for underreporting both its coronavirus infections and deaths. Last month, a lawmaker from Iran’s city of Qom, has accused the government of covering up the full extent of the coronavirus outbreak in the city, saying the death toll stood at 50. However, authorities rejected the report, saying the death toll was 12.