US COVID-19 update: Decomposing corpses found in unrefrigerated trucks in New York
Around 100 bodies were found in two rental trucks outside the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn. Police investigated after neighbours reported a foul smell and fluids dripping from the trailers.
At least 100 bodies stacked in unrefrigerated trucks outside a funeral home in Brooklyn, New York, have been discovered after police responded to 911 complaints from neighbours who had been complaining for weeks about a foul odour and fluids dripping from the trailers.
Two unrefrigerated trucks outside Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in New York city contained 50 bodies each, ABC News reported, citing a police source. Neighbors filmed body bags being dragged into them in recent days.
The New York city has been the epicentre of the US coronavirus outbreak for weeks, with 17,589 confirmed and probable Covid-19 deaths, according to the city website.
The Andrew Cleckley Funeral Home was overwhelmed and ran out of room for bodies, which were awaiting cremation, and used the trucks for storage, CNN reported, quoting a law enforcement official.
Police said it found the bodies in various stages of decomposition. Upon learning of the situation on Wednesday, the city sent the proper storage equipment to hold the bodies. City and state officials helped transfer the bodies to those refrigerated trucks provided by the city.
Neighbours, according to ABC News, indicated that they witnessed the bodies being placed into the unrefrigerated trucks on and off for a month -- not in caskets but in body bags.
The owner of the funeral home told city officials that its freezer had stopped working and they were forced to use the trucks as storage while bodies awaited burial or cremation.
"I've seen bodies stacked up on top of one another inside the trucks with both doors open," said Abdul Kamara, 40, a local resident.
"They've been storing bodies in the trucks. It's been going on since the beginning of COVID. These people have passed. This is not the way they should be treated on the way out."
"For weeks already, there have been trucks constantly outside unloading bodies. You could smell the death," added Jay Fredo, 57. "Some of them have been dropped. I know it's a pandemic, but this is crazy. It's sick."
John DiPietro, who owns the neighboring property, told the New York Post that cadavers had been mounting up at the funeral home for weeks. "You don't respect the dead that way. That could have been my father, my brother."
Funeral homes in the city say they are facing weeks-long backlogs to bury or cremate the dead amid the health crisis.