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Cyprus greenlights first cremation facility

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Authorities have greenlighted the creation of the island’s first crematorium, finally allowing people to choose their burial method several years after the law was passed.

The landmark crematorium is to be built by a funeral home in the Paphos village of Ayia Varvara.

The development comes more than six years after the legislation was introduced in April 2016.

However, as funeral homeowners had said, the law discouraged potential investors.

They argued that the budget required to meet the building specifications was too high to encourage investment.

Funeral homeowners had argued that an investment of several million euros was required.

This project is assumed by M.W. Crematorium Cyprus Ltd, at an estimated cost of €2.2 mln, and work will be completed within 18 to 24 months.

According to the environmental authorities, the proposed building site in Ayia Varvara has no significant negative impact on the area.

The crematorium will be a fully-fledged facility with a furnace in the basement, refrigeration facilities and a formal room on the ground floor to accommodate up to 70 people.

A growing number of people, including expats, wanting cremation have been discouraged by the high cost of transporting a deceased loved one abroad.

Until recently, families of the deceased wishing to be cremated had to send the body overseas, mainly to Britain, at an average cost of €5,000.

Those looking into being cremated are citing problems securing plots in traditional cemeteries or other beliefs.

Under the law, citizens have the right to be cremated.

Efforts to legalise cremation were undertaken in 2006 when the Cabinet commissioned a legislative drafting committee.

A draft bill stipulated that cremations did not apply to Cypriots.

This was amended in 2009 to allow the cremation of Cypriots – after objections from the Cyprus Orthodox Church – the law regulating crematoriums was passed.

The Orthodox Church had campaigned against the option, arguing that a burial fulfils the need of relatives to visit the graves of loved ones, adding that a burial ritual offers them solace.

In the U.K., 80% of the deceased are cremated. The same goes for the Czech Republic. In Germany, 63% of people are cremated, while in the USA, it has exceeded 50% in recent years.

On the contrary, in Greece, where a crematorium has been operating since 2019, the percentage is only 1.5%.