- India’s crematory workers are working around the clock as COVID-19 deaths rise.
- India has recorded more than 3,000 deaths for three days in a row.
- Crematory workers say they are getting less than two hours of sleep to meet the need.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Crematory workers in India are overburdened dealing with a massive death toll from the country’s devastating COVID-19 surge that they’re getting only two hours of sleep a night.
Jitender Signh Shunty, who runs a service in Delhi, India, that transports and cremates bodies for free, told Insider he’s been working around the clock to cremate those who have died.
“These days I don’t even get two hours of sleep,” he said. “At 7 a.m. I come here, I start dispatching ambulances, or I arrange for a dead body to be picked up, then get it cremated.”
Shunty said in the 25 years he’s been cremating bodies, he normally sees 10 bodies a day but that number is now averaging around 90 a day.
On Thursday, the country recorded 3,86,452 new COVID-19 cases and 3,498 deaths over the past 24 hours. It was the third day in a row India recorded more than 3,000 deaths a day.
“I am a very strong person, and I like working,” Shunty said. “I can work 21 out of 24 hours a day – I am not the kind of person who breaks down easily. But in this wave of the coronavirus, I’ve seen the dead bodies of small children and women who have become widows at a young age. They all have died for no good reason.”
The surge has meant bodies have had to be cremated in makeshift pyres in parking lots.
A caretaker at the Madanpuri crematorium told The Times of India that they only have space to cremate 30 bodies at a time and have had to set up 10 platforms in the parking area.
The demand has also resulted in a shortage of wood.
“At this time we are buying wood for 100 rupees,” said Shunty. “That’s more than the rate fixed by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. But we have sworn an oath that we will not let anyone suffer due to the shortage of wood, even if we have to sell our homes.”
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