Afraid of Being Buried Alive, Man Built Tomb with Megaphones!

Afraid of being buried alive, Brazilian resort operator Freud de Melo (yes, I know ...) built a vault complete with air, food, television and megaphones!

Under the shade of ficus trees stands the stone burial chapel that 73-year-old Freud de Melo built. Wind chimes tinkle above the wrought-iron door.

But it isn't a conventional final resting place. Inside the crypt, there's a TV, also a water pitcher and a fruit pantry. Fresh outdoor air flows in through four vents from the chapel roof. Within reach of the coffin are two makeshift megaphones -- plastic cones attached to tubes running out through the wall.

One Saturday recently, Mr. de Melo lay in the coffin, shouting into the cones in a voice that echoed into the countryside. "Help me! Come quick! I've been buried alive!"

It was only an equipment check -- not an actual emergency. Mr. de Melo, a resort operator and politician, built a burial vault he could survive in because he's gripped by a rare condition called taphephobia, the fear of being buried alive. "I have awful, awful nightmares of trying to dig myself out from underground," says Mr. de Melo, whose physician father named him, presciently, for the pioneer of dream analysis.


Photo: Matt Moffett / The Wall Street Journal

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