As India's record-breaking Covid-19 wave continues to surge, people are forced to perform the last rites of their loved one in car parking lots.
The second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on India's overburdened hospitals, as the country recorded the world’s highest daily number of 314,835 cases on Thursday and again on Friday with 332,730 cases.
India's total caseload has now surpassed 16 million, with deaths rising by 2,263 on Friday to reach a total of 186,920 since the pandemic started.
So many of the dead are being brought for the last rites that metal structures of furnaces at some crematoriums in the western state of Gujarat have started melting or breaking down, as they are being used round-the-clock.
There is an increasing shortage of space at crematoriums, showing the extent of the deluge of death in India’s capital where cases have jumped.
A Delhi resident, Nitish Kumar, who lost his mother from Covid-19, was forced to keep his mother’s dead body at home for almost two days while he looked for space in the city’s crematoriums.
Kumar cremated his mother in a temporary mass cremation facility in a parking lot adjoining a crematorium in Seemapuri, northeast Delhi.
"I ran pillar to post but every crematorium had some reason ... one said it had run out of wood," said Kumar, wearing a mask and squinting his eyes that were stinging from the smoke blowing from the burning pyres.
"We are working around the clock at 100 percent capacity to cremate bodies on time," Kamlesh Sailor, the president of the trust that runs the crematorium in the diamond-polishing city of Surat, told Reuters.
As crematoriums come under pressure where more than three hundred people have died of Covid-19 in the last 24 hours, the Indian capital is turning to makeshift facilities that are undertaking mass burials and cremations.
As of Thursday afternoon, 60 bodies had been cremated at a makeshift facility and fifteen others were still waiting for it, according to Jitender Singh Shunty who runs a non-profit medical service.
"No one in Delhi would have ever witnessed such a scene. Children who were 5 years old, 15 years old, 25 years old are being cremated. Newlyweds are being cremated. It's difficult to watch," said a teary-eyed Shunty.
Shunty also added that last year during the peak of the first wave the maximum number of bodies he helped cremate in a single day was eighteen, while the daily average was around eight to ten.
In Delhi alone, daily cases have risen to over 26,000 as hospitals run out of oxygen supplies.
A dire shortage of oxygen has forced authorities to closely guard their supplies by armed police at production plants.
Several hospitals said they had almost exhausted their oxygen supplies on Thursday. The prospects for patients and their distraught families were disastrous.
"The hospital came to us and told us to make our own arrangements," said Bhirendra Kumar, whose Covid-positive father was admitted 10 days ago. "We're not an oxygen company - how can we make our own arrangements?"