New York conducts mass burials for coronavirus victims
London, April 10, 2020 (AltAfrica)-Images have emerged of coffins being buried in a mass grave in New York City, as the death toll from the coronavirus continues to rise.
Workers in hazmat outfits were seen stacking wooden coffins in deep trenches in Hart Island.
Officials say burials are being ramped up at site, which has long been used for people with no next-of-kin or families who cannot afford a funeral.
New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any single country.
The state’s confirmed caseload of Covid-19 is nearly 162,000, of whom 7,844 have died.
Spain has recorded about 157,000 cases and Italy 143,600, while China, where the virus emerged last year, has nearly 83,000 cases.
The US as a whole has recorded 467,000 cases and about 16,700 deaths. Globally there are 1.6 million cases and 97,000 deaths.
The drone footage comes from Hart Island, off the Bronx in Long Island Sound, which has been used for more than 150 years by city officials as a mass burial site for those with no next-of-kin, or families who cannot afford funerals.
Normally, about 25 bodies a week are interred on the island, according to the Associated Press news agency.
But burial operations have increased from one day a week to five days a week, with around 24 burials each day, said Department of Correction spokesman Jason Kersten.
Prisoners from Rikers Island, the city’s main jail complex, usually do the job, but the rising workload has recently been taken over by contractors.
It is not clear how many of the dead have no next-of-kin or could not afford a funeral. However, the city has cut the amount of time it will hold unclaimed remains amid pressure on morgue space.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio indicated earlier this week that “temporary burials” might be necessary until the crisis had passed.
“Obviously the place we have used historically is Hart Island,” he said.BBC