LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The cremains of 1,440 people whose remains were never claimed will be buried tomorrow in a mass grave.

In honor of those who will be buried, Supervisor Don Knabe asked for a moment of silence during today’s board meeting.

“This holiday season, many of us are reminded of how fortunate we are to be surrounded by our loved ones,” said Knabe. “Sadly, not everyone shares this blessing.”

The county cremates the bodies of people who cannot be identified by the coroner or who go unclaimed by family. 

The county holds onto the ashes for relatives who may come to retrieve them months later. But, ultimately, if no one comes forward, the ashes are buried in a plastic bag in a common grave.

“Some are homeless. Many are poor. Some have no families to grieve for them,” Knabe said of the people who will be buried. Others have families who simply cannot afford the cost of burial or cremation, he said.

“Regardless of what their status in life was, each one of their lives mattered. It matters to us, their county family.”

The county coroner’s website has a list of the names of 5,015 dead who remain unclaimed.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)


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