On Monday, authorities said that dozens of bodies believed to have died from COVID-19 were swept away by waves on the banks of the Ganges River in northern India.
The epidemic is spreading at full speed across India’s vast, remote rural areas, overwhelming health facilities, crematoriums and cemeteries.
Local official Ashok Kumar said about 40 bodies were washed away by water in Buxar district, near the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s poorest states.
“We have ordered relevant officials to deal with the bodies and bury or cremate them,” Kumar told AFP.
And some media outlets claimed that the number of bodies could reach 100.
The same sources quoted other officials as determining that some of the bodies were ulcerated, partially burned, and may have spent several days in the river.
Residents told AFP that they believed the bodies were thrown into the water because the crematoria was overcrowded or because relatives of the victims were unable to pay for the firewood needed for the crematoria.
“It’s really shocking for us,” said one resident, Kamshwar Pandey.
According to official statistics, around 4,000 people are currently dying from COVID-19 every day in India, where the total number of deaths from the pandemic approaches 250,000 deaths.
Many experts consider these numbers to be underestimated, citing in particular data from the crematoria.
The number of unknown victims is especially increasing now that the current epidemic has spread beyond major cities, to rural areas where hospitals are scarce and their records are little updated.