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Gravediggers from Central Europe turn dirt with speed and precision

It's a light-hearted event but organizers say they do want to call attention to how strenuous the job can be. With pick and shovel nearly a dozen teams took to turning over the soil.

Turning mounds of ground with speed and precision were the keys to winning an international grave digging competition in the Central European country of Slovakia on Thursday.

In the end a pair of Slovak brothers out-dug a clutch of grave diggers from Slovakia and neighboring countries - Poland and Hungary - to win the Grave Digging Championship in the western Slovak city of Trencin.

The light-hearted event was nonetheless intended to shine a light on the funeral industry, as part of an international exhibition of funeral, burial and cremation services.

Event spokesman Christian Striz said the sponsors wanted to show how strenuous the job is.

The 2-man teams were tasked with digging graves to precise specifications - 1.5-meters deep, 2-meters long and 0.9-meters wide (5-feet x 6-feet-7-inches x 3-feet) -  with nothing more than picks and shovels, and were graded on speed and accuracy.

Slowakei Grab-Meisterschaft in Trencin Sieger Ladislav (L) und Csaba Skladan (Reuters/R. Stoklasa)

Brothers Ladislav and Csaba Skladan show off their award-winning graves

Brothers win

In the end, brothers Ladislav and Csaba Skladan, aged 43 and 41 respectively, dug a grave in 54 minutes.

A five-member jury also noted that their grave was the neatest.

"We want to show and appreciate the hard work of grave diggers," said Ladislav Striz, who established the contest last year.

"Most Slovak graveyards are so crowded and spaces between graves so narrow that we need human diggers instead of machines," he said. "They work hard, come rain, come snow."

The brothers appeared to take their win in stride.

"I am happy we won, it's a satisfaction after fifteen years in this job," said Csaba Skladan.

"I had to focus on speed today," added his brother, Ladislav Skladan, "but usually, when the weather is nice and I can chat with my brother, it's a dream job."

bik/bw (AP, Reuters)

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