Horrifying images have emerged of stray dogs eating human remains washed up on the banks of an Indian river as crematoria continue to collapse under the strain of the Covid crisis.
Body parts, some half burned, floated on the banks of the Bhagirathi River in Uttarkashi town in Uttrakhand.
A local resident said he was painting by the river on Monday when he saw the dogs “gnaw and feed on” the dead.
“I feel it’s the death of humanity,” the man said NDTV while appealing to the local government to deal with the accumulation of corpses.
Locals are concerned that they may be Covid victims and that the disease could spread through the water or through the dogs that ate the bodies.
While the infection rate in India has fallen since it peaked in early May, with daily cases exceeding 127,000 on Monday, the daily death toll, averaging 3,500 in the past week, is believed to be a drastic underestimate.
A stray dog is seen among human remains on the banks of the Bhagirathi River in the city of Uttarkashi in Uttrakhand
Local workers in PPE attend the crisis on the banks of the Bhagirathi River in Uttarkashi city in Uttrakhand
The city of Uttarkashi is located on the banks of the river Bhagirathi in the state of Uttrakhand, Northern India
Many of the country’s ghats, the steps at the river’s edge where Hindus traditionally burn their dead, the crematoria and cemeteries, have been overwhelmed.
Crematoria in New Delhi ran out of wood last month, so many deaths per day.
Ramesh Semwal, the chairman of the Uttarkashi municipality, said yesterday that he had ordered local authorities to take care of the bodies in the river.
‘The number of deaths in our region has increased in recent days. I also found out that bodies are not properly incinerated, so I instructed the administration to arrange the cremation of half-burnt bodies in Kedar Ghat,” Semwal told NDTV.
There was a similar case last month of suspected coronavirus victims washing ashore on the banks of the Ganges River in the northern states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Footage also surfaced yesterday showing family members wearing full PPE dumping a body into the Rapti River in Balrampur, Uttar Pradesh.
Authorities believe that families of the dead may not have been able to find space to cremate their loved ones or pay for the final rituals.
India has battled a severe third wave of coronavirus in the past month, and while the number of cases is starting to decline, the country is facing a rising daily death toll in the coming weeks.
India has reported an official death toll of 331,895, but according to an analysis published last week by the New York Times, the figure was more likely to be 1.6 million.
The newspaper predicted that while this was the likely toll, the worst-case scenario could reach 4.2 million Covid deaths in the country’s 1.4 billion.
By comparison, Britain recorded just nine deaths on May 27, totaling over 127,000 deaths. The US has registered about 590,000, believed to be an under-number, out of a population of about 330 million.
Vinod Paul, head of India’s coronavirus task force, dismissed the study, saying it was “unsupported by any evidence and based on biased estimates.”
‘Our [fatality] number is 0.05 percent of those infected. They said 0.3 percent. Why? On what basis did you decide it’s 0.3 percent of that great infection universe? There is no base at all. Five people get together, call each other and then throw this number. That’s how this report came about,” Paul told NDTV.
“There may be some late reporting of deaths, but there is no intent from any state or the Center. If I applied the same triple standard to New York, there would be 50,000 dead. But they say it’s 16,000. So this is distorted,” he added.