Locals believe the bodies were thrown into the river because crematoriums were overwhelmed or families could not afford funeral pyres.
Dozens of bodies of people believed to have died from COVID-19 have washed up on the banks of the Ganges in northern India, officials said on Monday.
District official Ashok Kumar said around 40 bodies washed up in Buxar district, near the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s poorest states.
“We have ordered the officials concerned to get rid of all the bodies, bury them or cremate them,” Kumar told AFP news agency.
The pandemic quickly spread across India’s vast rural hinterland, overwhelming local health facilities as well as crematoriums and cemeteries.
Residents told AFP they believed the bodies were thrown into the river because cremation sites were overwhelmed or because relatives could not afford to buy wood for funeral pyres.
“It’s really shocking for us,” Kameshwar Pandey told the news agency.
According to some media, the number of corpses could reach 100.
Reports cited other officials as saying some of them were swollen and partially burnt and could have been in the river for several days.
According to official statistics, around 4,000 people are currently dying from the coronavirus in India every day and the death toll is almost 250,000.
But citing anecdotal evidence from crematoriums, many experts believe the actual daily number could be several times higher.
This is especially the case now that the current outbreak has spread beyond major cities into rural areas where hospitals are few and far between and where records are poor.