Greece's first cremation center starts operation

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ATHENS, Oct. 11 (Xinhua) -- Thirteen years after cremation was legalized in Greece, the first center has finally started its operation.

The private-run facility in Ritsona, north of the capital Athens, was licensed a year ago and started operation from the end of September.

"It is a historic event," said Antonis Alakiotis, president of Greek Cremation Society (GCS), at a press conference at the cremation center this week.

"Burial customs are among the most difficult to change in a society," he said.

"Greece is the last country among European Union members to have a crematorium," he added.

For years, Greeks who were seeking cremation for their deceased loved ones had to travel abroad. The nearest crematoria previously available to Greeks were in Bulgaria and the cost was rather expensive, up to 3,000 euros.

According to Alakiotis, Greeks spend 2.5 million to three million euros every year for the cremation of their loved ones abroad.

Though the cost of the cremation alone is 600 euros, he noted, the total amount depends on the services requested by each family at the funeral home.

Regarding air pollution generated from cremation, Alakiotis explained that the facility is adhering to national and European environmental standards and regulations.

"The filters in the furnaces are so strong that the pollutant is not visible and has no smell," he said. Enditem

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