INTRUDERS have been slammed for ‘mocking the dead’ after breaking into a former chapel of rest in a disused hospital.

The ‘urban explorers’ entered Rossendale Hospital and took pictures of themselves inside the mortuary.

One of the images shows a man pretending to be a corpse on a trolley covered in a white sheet while his friend, wearing a hospital gown, stands over him with a clipboard.

Other images show the Qur’an and Bibles on a table, a plaque donated by a funeral director, the fridges used to store bodies and other hospital equipment.

An investigation has now been launched by East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, which owns the site, after the trespassers sparked a security alert.

And police have warned anyone caught will be prosecuted.

Bill Wilkinson, 64, of Croft Close in Rawtenstall, is a parishioner of St. James-the-Less and St Thomas More church in the town.

He said that the multi-faith area was of great comfort to relatives after the death of his father Edmund, 76, in 1990.

He said: “It seemed a natural and comfortable place to be in the immediate aftermath of his death. I don’t understand what these young people get from this mocking of the dead. They should put their energies into positive things instead of being interested in mortuaries.”

Rashid Iqbal, funeral director at Iqbal Funeral Services, who have offices in Nelson and Blackburn, said: “It is in very bad taste that these men would break into the morgue and behave like this. It is disrespectful.”

A spokesman for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We have launched an investigation into this report but believe that the photos were taken some time ago as we have no knowledge of any recent security breaches or intrusions at the Haslingden Road site.

“When the final medical services moved from Rossendale Hospital in 2010, there was an increase in vandalism which is why security on the site was increased to ensure the safety and protection of the building.”

A police spokesman said: “Not only could those trespassing face prosecution but they could also put their own lives at risk.”

Cathy Fishwick, from Rossendale Civic Trust, said: “These urban explorers are not just an East Lancashire problem but a national one. What they are doing is disrespectful but also goes to show how insecure some buildings are.”

The intruders posted the images on an online forum 28 days later. The website describes itself ‘a digital meeting place for like-minded people to share their experiences, reports and photographs’.

Rossendale Hospital closed in September 2010. The site has been earmarked for a 139 housing development by Taylor Wimpey.