The stench from an overcrowded morgue in one of Mexico's most violent areas forced a government shutdown

A protest by government workers in a drug-violence-stricken southern Mexican city over rotting corpses at the municipal morgue temporarily closed a prosecutor’s office on Tuesday, officials said.

“We can no longer tolerate the odours, so work can’t be done,” one of the workers told Mexican newspaper Reforma.

A protest by about 60 workers forced the office in Chilpancingo, the capital of southern Guerrero state, to close for about three hours.

The protesters complained that overcrowding was causing unsanitary conditions at the facility, according to Reuters. Media reports said at least 500 corpses were stored in the morgue. According to Reforma, the morgue has a capacity of 200 bodies but was 400 bodies overcapacity.

A photo posted on Twitter by a reporter based in Chilpancingo, seen below, showed morgue technicians working in open air among body bags and examination tables.

Officials promised protesters that future transfers of bodies to the morgue will involve better sanitary conditions.

“Workers in the prosecutor’s office will take the necessary precautions so that the situation that occurred today, in which the odor (from the corpses) arrived at the office and caused the workers to stop work, doesn’t happen again,” the state government said in a statement.

Violence has spiked in Guerrero in recent years as a growing number of criminal gangs compete for control of opium-poppy crops and for drug-trafficking routes.

Acapulco, a once idyllic resort city on Guerrero’s coast, has been riven by organised-crime-related violence. It has ranked as one of Mexico’s most violent municipalities over the last several years and has been called “Guerrero’s Iraq.”

Guerrero¬†had 1,858 homicide victims through September, which is the most of the country’s 32 states and more than the state of Mexico, which has more than four times the population.

The number of homicide victims in Guerrero over the first nine months of the year was a 12% increase over the 1,654 homicide victims the state had during the same period last year.

Alongside the morgue in Chilpancingo, forensics facilities in Acapulco and Iguala — both high-crime areas — have been overwhelmed by the increase in homicides, according to Reforma.

This is only the most recent instance of overcrowding at Chilpancingo’s morgue.

In November 2016, Proceso reported that the facility did not have enough refrigerated chambers for the bodies coming in, and some corpses — many disfigured by violent deaths — had to be placed in the parking lot due to a lack of space.

(Reporting for Reuters contributed by Uriel Sanchez and David Alire Garcia; editing by Grant McCool)

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