NGO gathers ashes of India's unclaimed COVID dead


At New Delhi's main crematorium, two volunteers from NGO Shri Deodhan Sewa Samiti have been quietly collecting the ashes of India's unclaimed dead, giving the bodies a send off as per Hindu traditions.

Ashish Kashyap respectfully washes the remains and prays over them.

"These are the unclaimed remains of COVID-19 victims. During this pandemic, the relatives of these victims abandoned them. However, our organization collects these remains from all the crematoriums and perform the last rituals in Haridwar so that they can achieve salvation. Ninety-five percent of the remains belong to COVID-19 victims."

The ashes are taken to the river Ganges, a river many Hindus consider holy, for a final ritual, which is said to ensure the souls of the deceased go to heaven and escape the cycle of rebirth.

The following graphic video was obtained from Ghazipur district, where about 100 bodies of suspected COVID-19 patients were floating in the Ganges.

Several villages along the river banks were alerted by the smell and informed the local authorities.

India's coronavirus crisis showed scant sign of easing on Tuesday (May 11).

The country's seven-day average of new cases is at a record high, with over 390,000 reported cases.

International health authorities are warning the country's variant of the virus poses a global concern.

India also leads in the daily average number of new deaths reported.

According to a Reuters tally, the country accounts for one of every three deaths reported worldwide each day.

For the volunteers at New Delhi's main crematorium, the abandoned deceased deserve a respectful farewell despite the overwhelming numbers.

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