01:39 GMT +316 October 2019
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    An old headstone stands in the Bidadari Cemetery, Singapore, Sunday, Feb. 17, 2002

    Singapore to Dig Up More Than 80,000 Graves to Expand Military Base

    © AP Photo / Naashon Zalk
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    In its quest to expand regional military influence and create new space for a rapidly increasing population, Singapore will dig up some 80,000 graves to make way for a new military airstrip.

    A graveyard estimated to contain some 80,000 corpses will be dug up to make room for the expansion of Singapore's Tengah Air Base. The base is the tiny island city-state and global financial center's primary location for its fleet of US-built F16s and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV).

    Additionally, the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) will acquire land belonging to fish farms and a nursery. The total expansion amounts to around half a square mile of territory in the 278-square-mile nation.

    By 2030 the expansion is slated to accommodate the assets and facilities from the country's Paya Lebar Air Base, according to a joint Tuesday statement from Singapore's Ministry of National Development, National Environment Agency and Singapore Land Authority.

    Compensation to the current landowners will be determined based on current market value and the original acquisition date, according to authorities, cited by Channel News Asia.

    The excavation of what authorities say are about 45,000 Chinese and about 5,000 Muslim graves, which have been buried the minimum legal 15-year period, will begin in September, constituting about 90 percent of the total expansion.

    The remaining 500 Chinese graves and an estimated 30,000 Muslim graves will be removed after their 15-year minimum burial period has passed.

    Muslim graves will be moved to a different part of what remains of the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery, following the land appropriation.

    A 2013 announcement of the closure of the Paya Lebar Air Base by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that some three square miles of much-needed land would be freed up to begin development for residence buildings, offices and factories in the island republic.

    "Government agencies have, as far as possible, tried to minimise the impact of these works, and affected stakeholders will be given advance notice to make alternative arrangements," said a government news release, cited by Channel News Asia.


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    base relocation, relocation, corpses, graves, exhumation, Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), Singapore
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