Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of India's surge in COVID-19 cases

India’s surge in coronavirus infections, growing at the fastest pace in the world, has left patients pleading for oxygen outside hospitals, relatives weeping in the street as their loved ones die while waiting for treatment.

The Associated Press April 27, 2021 12:39:22 IST
Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of India's surge in COVID-19 cases

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Delhi has been cremating so many bodies of COVID-19 victims that authorities are getting requests to start cutting down trees in city parks for kindling, as a record surge of illness is collapsing India’s tattered health care system.

Outside graveyards in cities like Delhi, which currently has the highest daily cases, ambulance after ambulance waits in line to cremate the dead. Burial grounds are running out of space in many cities as glowing funeral pyres blaze through the night.

India’s surge in coronavirus infections, growing at the fastest pace in the world, has left families and patients pleading for oxygen outside hospitals, the relatives weeping in the street as their loved ones die while waiting for treatment.

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 is consoled by another during cremation in Jammu, India. AP Photo/Channi Anand

The nation of nearly 1.4 billion people set a global record of new daily infections for a fifth straight day Monday. The 350,179 new cases pushed India’s total past 17 million, behind only the United States. Deaths rose by 2,812 in the past 24 hours, bringing total fatalities to 195,123, the Health Ministry said, though the number is believed to be a vast undercount.

A stark symbol of the crisis are the overwhelmed graveyards and crematoriums, stacked to the brim with the dead.

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A man in a protective suit digs earth to bury the body of a person who died of COVID-19 in Gauhati, India. AP Photo/Anupam Nath

In the central city of Bhopal, crematoriums have added pyres. One has been forced to skip the exhaustive rituals Hindus believe release the soul from the cycle of rebirth.

Overwhelmed crematoriums reflect the collapse of India’s already fragile health care system. Hospitals are unbearably full, with two or three patients to a bed in some cases. Officials are racing to add beds, ventilators and more oxygen to help the sick breathe.

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A relative of a person who died of COVID-19 breaks down during cremation in Jammu, India. AP Photo/Channi Anand

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

Members of a family of a COVID-19 victim prepare funeral pyre for the deceased member as multiple funeral pyres of those who died of COVID-19 are seen at a crematorium in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

Family members put the body of their relative, who died of COVID-19 on the funeral pyre at a crematorium in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

Flames rise from cremation pyres of 13 COVID-19 patients who died in a fire that broke out in Vijay Vallabh COVID-19 hospital, at Virar, near Mumbai, India. AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

People line up dead bodies of those who died of COVID-19 at a crematorium, in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A man sits on a log while waiting for the funeral of his relative who died of COVID-19 , at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for mass cremation of COVID-19 victims in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

Relatives and municipal workers in protective suits bury the body of a person who died due to COVID-19 in Gauhati, India. AP Photo/Anupam Nath

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A man transports a dead body on a handcart to a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for mass cremation of COVID-19 victims, in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

[imgcenter]Mass funeral pyres present a chilling portrait of Indias surge in COVID19 cases[/imgcenter]

A dead body waits to be cremated as multiple funeral pyres of those who died of COVID-19 burn at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for mass cremation of coronavirus victims, in New Delhi, India. AP Photo

— Featured image: Multiple funeral pyres of those who died of COVID-19 burn at a ground that has been converted into a crematorium for the mass cremation of coronavirus victims, in New Delhi, India. AP Photo/Altaf Qadri

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