Faced with a world record of contaminations, India is struggling to find space to bury its dead, the crematoriums being completely saturated. In Delhi, the bodies of people who died from the coronavirus are cremated in a parking lot adjacent to the crematorium.
“I lost count,” sighs Sanjay, a priest administering the last rites of yet another deceased in the parking lot of a Delhi crematorium. “We start at sunrise and cremations continue beyond midnight,” he says, gazing into the flames of the pyres and piles of smoldering ashes who, not long ago, were human beings. before the Covid-19 kills them.
Indian hospitals saturated
Families mourn in silence on the side of the road in this underprivileged part of the capital, awaiting the turn of their loved ones wrapped in white linens and garlands of yellow marigolds. Ambulance sirens carrying other bodies keep ringing. The inhabitants of the buildings which overlook the establishment are subjected to the stench of charred bodies and the lamentations of grieving families.
Indian hospitals and their staff are being severely tested by this devastating second wave of the coronavirus epidemic. People are dying at the gates of hospitals or in their homes for lack of beds, medicine and oxygen. The crematoriums know no truce, their chimneys crack and the metal frames of the ovens end up melting under the intensity of the heat. Wood is also starting to run out in some establishments, families are asked to bring their own fuel.
“The bodies kept coming in”
Many crematoriums and cemeteries say the official death toll from the virus falls short of reality, given the influx of bodies they see parading. Over the past three days, Seemapuri Crematorium in northeast Delhi has held more than 100 funerals a day and is now out of space. “We tried to accommodate cremations in the aisles and wherever we could find space, but the bodies kept coming in,” said coordinator Jitender Singh Shanty, wearing a yellow turban, dressed in a blue protective suit.
“We had to ask the authorities to allow us to extend the facility to the parking lot,” the Sikh adds, orange flames raging on pyres behind him at the end of the day. According to Jitender Singh Shanty, his crematorium has cremated around 600 bodies since the start of the month, and families continue to wait hours before they can perform the final mortuary rites. “If the situation does not improve,” he adds, “we may have to do the cremations on the road, since we are out of space now. “