Dozens of dead bodies have been discovered floating on the Ganges River in eastern India. Officials have recovered at least 70 bodies on the river, with no cause of death able to be determined because of the advanced state of decomposition present in all of the retrieved corpses. Concerned Indians are speculating about how so many bodies wound up in the river at once, though many have presumed that the incident is related somehow to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in the country.
India struggles to keep up with deaths
The bodies have washed up primarily in the northeastern state of Uttar Pradesh, which at 240 million inhabitants is the most populous state in India.
Over the course of the current surge the country has reported up to 4,000 deaths every day, though experts suspect that the official numbers are a massive undercount.
India has struggled to cope with the recent surge, which the medical infrastructure of the country has been completely overwhelmed by in many areas.
Bodies of victims are meant to be cremated in accordance with Hindu tradition, though locals in a number of regions have found it difficult to keep up with the necessary amount of cremations.
In the capital city of New Delhi, relatives have frequently abandoned the deceased to be given the proper rites by volunteers.
The chief explanation for the bodies in the river is related to similarly overwhelmed people in rural areas of the country, where medical infrastructure is often lacking.
Dozens of bodies appear in Ganges
Parts of the country are reportedly experiencing a major shortage in wood for cremation due to the enormous surge in demand for the traditional Hindu funerary practices.
Officials stated that it is still impossible to determine the source of the bodies, but some in India claim that rural people are, due to the shortage in wood, disposing of their dead in the river.
The Ganges is a holy river in Hinduism, meaning that from a religious standpoint this method of disposal is far more respectful to the dead than it might appear to foreign observers.
Placing bodies in the river is less desirable, however, for the people who live downriver and are now left to cope with the dozens of floating corpses.
The decomposition caused by the water creates another major headache for authorities, who have no way to prove the COVID-19 theory or identify the source of the bodies.
While the explanation being offered by many Indians seems to make cultural sense given the circumstances, the sight of decomposing bodies floating down the holy Ganges River with no verified source will continue to be exceptionally unpleasant for the people of Uttar Pradesh.