MILLIONS of "zombie" mink will be dug up from mass graves and burned in Denmark after hordes of animal carcasses started to resurface at burial sites.
Some 17 million mink were ordered to be culled in early November in Denmark after hundreds of farms suffered outbreaks of coronavirus and authorities found mutated strains of the virus among people.
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But some of the four million mink hastily buried at a military training ground in western Denmark have "risen from the dead" and started to emerge from the sandy soil.
The carcasses have strayed to resurface in the mass graves in Holstebro and Karup after gasses from the decomposition process pushed the mink out of the ground.
"Gases are formed during decomposition, which causes the bodies to swell a little and, in worst cases, they get pushed out of the ground," police spokesman Thomas Kristensen told DR last month.
Officials previously pledged to bury the mink deeper into the ground and lay more soil over the dead animals in a bid to stop the bodies rising to the surface.
But the mink will now be dug up and trucked to nearby waste incinerators to be burned, the country's government announced on Sunday.
Chilling images shows hordes of animal carcasses resurfacing at the mass burial sites.
Danish newspaper National Berlingske joked the situation was "dead zombie mink rising from the grave to exact revenge".
The resurfacing of the carcasses has sparked concerns among residents about possible health and environmental risks.
Authorities claimed there was no risk of the graves spreading the coronavirus, but residents have complained about the potential risk of contaminating drinking water and a bathing lake less than 200 metres from the mass graves.
The government gained support in parliament on Sunday to dig up the mink, the ministry of food and agriculture said in a statement.
But the work will only begin in May next year, when the risk of contamination of Covid-19 from the dead animals has been eliminated.
"This way, we avoid the mink being treated as dangerous biological waste, a solution that's never been used before," the ministry said.
It comes as lawmakers in Denmark finally passed a law on Monday to ban mink breeding until 2022, creating the legal basis for its order to cull all mink in the Nordic country over fears of worsening the pandemic.
The Danish government previously apologised and admitted that its call to slaughter the mink had no legal basis.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said: "Even if we were in a rush, it should have been completely clear to us that new legislation was required, and it was not.
"I apologise for that."
Earlier this year, researchers at the State’s Serum Institute in Copenhagen detected mutations in the spike protein of the virus in the mink strain, which they feared could make a vaccine less effective if transmitted back to humans.
Kare Molbak, director at the State Serum Institute, told Reuters: "The worst case scenario is a new pandemic, starting all over again out of Denmark."
The strain, known as "Cluster Five", was found on 207 out of the country's 1,139 fur farms.
Denmark was the top exporter of mink to luxury fashion labels, with its pelts in high demand due to high breeding standards.
Farmers said the cull, estimated to cost up to £600 million, could spell the end of the lucrative industry.
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