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Horrifying pictures show hundreds of shallow graves in India

Horrifying pictures show hundreds of shallow graves at overflowing crematorium site on the banks of the Ganges as India records 4,200 more coronavirus deaths

  • Rows and rows of shallow graves along the banks of the Ganges in northwestern India were exposed by rains
  • Aerial pictures showed the scale of the crematorium site, where the remains of hundreds of people are buried
  • India continues to struggle with a second wave of coronavirus deaths, with 4,209 recorded on Thursday
  • Infections with black fungus, blamed on the excessive use of steroids to treat Covid patients, are also rising

Rows and rows of shallow graves along the banks of the river Ganges in northwestern India have been partially exposed by heavy rains.

The remains of coronavirus victims are among the hundreds buried at the cremation ground in Shringverpur village, around 40 kilometres from the city of Prayagraj. 

Horrifying pictures showed the vast scale of the site, where the small grave mounds were covered with saffron cloth.

Municipal staff were working to recover the graves and chase away stray dogs who had begun gnawing at the bones inside.

Despite this, on Thursday cremations continued at the site – just one of many struggling to cope with the huge number of coronavirus deaths amid India’s punishing second wave.

The country recorded 4,209 deaths from the disease on Thursday, along with 259, 551 new infections. 

Official figures are widely considered to be vastly lower than the actual number of deaths and infections. 

Rows and rows of shallow graves along the banks of the river Ganges in northwestern India have been partially exposed by heavy rains

A municipal worker drags sand over the partially exposed graves after rains washed away the top layer of sand

Cremations continued at the site – just one of many struggling to cope with the huge number of coronavirus deaths amid India’s punishing second wave

The remains of coronavirus victims are among the hundreds buried at the cremation ground in Shringverpur village, around 40 kilometres from the city of Prayagraj

Hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed since the second wave began in March, with many areas of the country suffering chronic oxygen shortages. 

In recent weeks, a horrifying Covid-19 complication has swept the country, with thousands of people contracting black fungus. 

The wave of infections with the previously very rare condition has been blamed on excessive use of steroids to treat the country’s millions of Covid patients, experts say. 

Mucormycosis, as it is scientifically known, is highly aggressive and surgeons sometimes have to remove patients’ eyes, nose and jaw to stop it reaching the brain. The death rate is over 50 percent. 

India normally deals with fewer than 20 black fungus cases a year but now there are several thousand across the country including more than 2,000 in Maharashtra state, home to India’s financial capital Mumbai. 

Horrifying pictures showed the vast scale of the site, where the small grave mounds were covered with saffron cloth

Municipal staff chase away stray dogs who had begun gnawing at the bones inside the partially exposed graves

India recorded 4,209 deaths from the disease on Thursday, along with 259, 551 new infections, though official figures are widely believed to be much lower than the actual number of infections and deaths

At least nine Indian states have declared the problem an epidemic. The cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore have opened special wards.

Indian media reports suggest hundreds have died in the past few days.

Authorities have not said how many have perished nationally but a government alert to state authorities has called for teams of surgeons and specialists to be ready for a rise in cases. 

Before the coronavirus pandemic, only those with severely compromised immunity, such as HIV or organ transplant patients, were at risk.

The current rapid rise in fungus cases is largely being attributed to the uncontrolled use of steroids to treat patients for coronavirus.

‘People have started using (steroids) liberally, excessively and inappropriately,’ Professor K. Srinath Reddy, from the Public Health Foundation of India, told AFP news agency.

He said contaminated water in oxygen cylinders or air humidifiers also provided an opportunity for the fungus to spread rapidly. 

Hospitals, morgues and crematoriums have been overwhelmed since the second wave began in March, with many areas of the country suffering chronic oxygen shortages

When coronavirus case numbers started exploding across India in March and April, social media was awash with desperate pleas for medical oxygen, hospital beds and drugs from families with sick relatives.

Now Indians including Shah are turning to social media again in the hunt for drugs to treat black fungus.

Most of the requests are for amphotericin B liposomal injections. India’s health minister on Thursday said production of the shots was being increased. 

Amulya Nidhi, a health activist in Madhya Pradesh, said the government had earlier failed to prepare an adequate supply of coronavirus medicines such as remdesivir and plasma, and then failed to learn its lesson by doing the same with fungus medications.

‘The government should have acted when it found out about the very first (fungus) case… People are not supposed to be begging for life-saving medicines.’ 

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