Residents in the area believe the bodies were dumped into the river because the crematoria were overflowing or families could not afford the funeral pyres.
Dozens of bodies believed to have died as a result of COVID-19 have been dragged along the Ganges River in northern India, officials said on Monday.
District chief Ashok Kumar said about 40 bodies were washed in Buxar district, near the border between Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, two of India’s poorest states.
“We have directed interested officials to remove all bodies, bury them or incinerate them,” Kumar told AFP news agency.
The pandemic has spread rapidly to India’s vast rural hinterland, overwhelming local health facilities as well as crematoria and cemeteries.
Residents told AFP they believed the bodies had been dumped into the river because cremation sites were crowded or because relatives could not afford firewood for the funeral pyres.
“It’s really shocking for us,” Kameshwar Pandey told the news agency.
Some media reports said the number of corpses could reach up to 100.
Reports cited other officials saying some of them were swollen and partially burned and could have been in the river for several days.
According to official statistics, approximately 4,000 people die from coronavirus every day in India and the death toll is almost 250,000.
But, citing anecdotal evidence from crematoria, many experts believe the actual daily number could be several times higher.
This is particularly the case now that the current increase has spread beyond large cities to rural areas where hospitals are scarce and have a poor record.