Dead bodies floating in India's Ganges amid COVID-19 crisis

12 Mai, 2021, 05:23 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • Covid panic as some 40 bodies wash up on banks of Indian river

"People are terrified of getting Covid".

A large number of incidents, including ambulances queuing up outside hospitals, bodies piling up outside crematoriums and graveyards for hours, and basic medical facilities seemingly crumbling in parts of the country due to a lack of hospital beds and ventilators, are being reported on a daily basis.

"It is really shocking for us", local resident Kameshwar Pandey told AFP. However, experts believe the real death toll could be higher.

On Tuesday, the country confirmed almost 390,000 new cases, including 3,876 more deaths.

India's total caseload now stands at 22.66 million, with 246,116 deaths. It also cited officials who said some bodies were bloated and partially burned and could have been in the river for several days.

Officials claimed the bodies floated down from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state and belong to coronavirus victims whose relatives, being poor, were unable to afford cremation and discarded the remains in the river.

The local authorities believe these are the corpses of Covid dead from Uttar Pradesh, a state in northern India.

"Poverty is one reason for the dead bodies flowing in the Ganges because it costs a lot to burn dead bodies", added one resident of the Gahmar village.

It is not clear how the bodies came to be there, but local media reports suggest they may be Covid-19 victims.

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Uttar Pradesh is the most highly-populated state in India and home to some 200 million people. "We need to investigate where they are from, which town in Uttar Pradesh - Bahraich or Varanasi or Allahabad", said another official, KK Upadhyay.

Ghazipur District Magistrate MP Singh said that a probe is underway into the matter.

An investigation is under way and efforts to identify the deceased have begun, local media reported.

As Covid-19 deaths have overwhelmed funeral grounds, some crematories are charging five or 10 times the usual price for last rites.

Mass election rallies held by Prime Minister Modi and other politicians have for instance partly been blamed by some for the staggering rise in infections.

There are also concerns the practice could contribute to the spread of the virus as it involved people gathering in groups.

"A failure of governance of epic and historic proportions", Vipin Narang, a political science professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States, said on Twitter.

Delhi's health minister said the city was running out of vaccines, with just three to four days of supplies remaining of AstraZeneca, made by the Serum Institute of India and branded Covishield, the NDTV news channel reported.

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