800 children 'buried in mass graves' at Church-run home
New evidence suggests 796 children were interred in septic tanks in Irish refuge run by nuns
The Catholic Church in Ireland is facing fresh claims of child abuse after the discovery that nearly 800 children were buried in secret mass graves at a former home for unmarried mothers.
Records uncovered by a local resident suggest that 796 children died at the single mothers' home in Tuam, County Galway, in the 35 years it was supervised by the Church. The bodies are believed to have been interred in the building's septic tank, which was "converted to serve as a disposal site", reports Al Jazeera.
The home, which reportedly doubled as an orphanage, was run by nuns between 1925 and 1961.
A government inspection in 1944 revealed severe malnutrition among the 271 children housed there. The new evidence suggests that most of the children who died – many of whom were babies and toddlers – succumbed to sickness or disease.
"Ireland had one of the highest infant mortality rates in Europe during the first half of the 20th century," The Guardian reports.
Remains were discovered at the site when the buried tank was uncovered by housing developers in the 1970s, but at the time they were taken to be victims of the Irish famine.
According to the Daily Mail, the emergence of this new evidence could lead to a full excavation of the burial site after formal complaints were submitted to the Irish police.
Church officials in Galway say they had no idea so many children died at the orphanage.