IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

No eternal rest for the dead in crowded Singapore

A 50-year-old grave digger who asked to be identified as Mr Sim exhumes a grave at Bukit Brown cemetery in Singapore on November 27, 2012.
A 50-year-old grave digger who asked to be identified as Mr Sim exhumes a grave at Bukit Brown cemetery in Singapore on November 27, 2012.Edgar Su / Reuters

Reuters reports — Eternal peace does not last long in Singapore.

Starting early next year, workers with heavy machinery will begin constructing an eight-lane highway across the small country's oldest surviving major cemetery, overriding the objections of nature lovers and heritage buffs.

Singapore, with its 5.3 million people crammed onto an island less than half the size of London, is already more densely populated than rival Asian business center Hong Kong, making permanent burial space unfeasible.

Mr Sim, left, breaks a tombstone with his sledgehammer as he exhumes a grave at Bukit Brown cemetery with his boss, Mr Leung.Edgar Su / Reuters

The whole of Bukit Brown - the resting place of more than 100,000 people, including some of Singapore's pioneering business and clan leaders and their large, intricately carved tombs - will eventually be used for residential development. At least 30 people buried there have streets named after them.

Some families have begun removing the remains of their ancestors, and authorities plan to dig up the remaining graves in January. Read the full story.

Mr Sim holds two coffin nails found when exhuming a grave at Bukit Brown cemetery.Edgar Su / Reuters

Follow @NBCNewsPictures

Sign up for the NBCNews.com Photos Newsletter