Unclaimed Coronavirus Victims Buried on New York's “Island of the Dead”

This island has been a mass grave of the city since 1869. More than one million unidentified or unclaimed people are buried there.

Dozens of bodies of victims of the coronaviruses not claimed by relatives are buried on a New York island, long dubbed “the island of the dead”, according to several local media on Friday April 10. Located northeast of the Bronx, Hart Island has been used as a New York mass grave since 1869. Over one million people unidentified, unclaimed or for whom loved ones have been unable to pay for a funeral are already buried on the 'Isle.

“We will continue to use the island for this purpose during the crisis and it is likely that people who died from Covid-19 as a result of one of these cases will be buried there in the coming days”, a spokesman for New York City told AFP. Images filmed this week by drone for the New york post show dozens of sketchy coffins being buried on Hart Island.

Quoted by several media sources, a spokesman for the city's prison services, which manage the place, said that around 24 people were buried every day today, compared to an average of 25 per week before the pandemic. On Friday, the mayor of New York implicitly acknowledged that bodies of people who died from coronavirus were buried on Hart Island. New York State remains the most affected in the United States, with 777 new deaths in the past 24 hours and 7,844 deaths in total since the arrival of the pandemic in the region.

Usually burials, taken from the famous nearby Rikers Island prison, provide burials. But given the risk of contamination and concerns about the spread of the virus in detention, the stain is currently provided by employees of a subcontractor, said a spokesman for New York City. The prison services have opened a register which lists all the people buried on the island since 1977 and whose identity is known.

The management of the island has been regularly criticized, the prison services being accused of not maintaining the site properly. In early 2018, several local media had shown images of bones scattered on the island's shores, from skeletons discovered by erosion. The city council voted, at the end of 2019, the transfer of the management of Hart Island to the city's parks and gardens service, planned for 2021. The change of manager also aims to make the site more accessible for the relatives of people buried on the island.


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