Dozens of corpses have been found floating on the Ganges in eastern India as the country battles a fierce outbreak of coronavirus infections. Authorities said on Tuesday they had yet to determine the cause of death.
Health officials working through Monday night recovered 71 bodies, Bihar state officials said.
Images on social media of the bodies floating in the river sparked outrage and speculation that they died from COVID-19. Authorities performed autopsies on Tuesday, but said they could not confirm the cause of death due to the decomposing bodies.
Other corpses were found floating in the river on Tuesday, washed up in Ghazipur district in neighboring Uttar Pradesh. Police and villagers were at the site, about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Monday’s incident.
“We are trying to find out where these corpses come from? How did they get here? Said Mangla Prasad Singh, a local official.
Surinder, a Ghazipur resident who uses a name, said the villagers did not have enough wood to cremate their dead on land.
“Due to the shortage of wood, the dead are buried in the water,” he said. “Bodies of around 12 to 13 villages were buried in the water.”
Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as infections in India grow faster than anywhere else in the world.
The country confirmed nearly 390,000 new cases on Tuesday, including 3,876 additional deaths. Overall, India had the second highest number of confirmed cases after the United States with nearly 23 million and over 240,000 deaths. All of the numbers are almost certainly a considerable undercoverage, experts say.
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