(WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT) Drone video shows workers burying bodies in a NYC island trench amid the coronavirus pandemic. Burials at the city cemetery on Hart Island have increased from 25 a week to about 24 a day. (April 9) AP Domestic


As New York state continues to report record-breaking numbers of coronavirus deaths, New York City burials are increasing on an island off the Bronx.

Normally, about 25 bodies a week are buried in the city's public cemetery on Hart Island; most of them are either unclaimed or are people whose families can't afford a funeral. 

Now, around 24 burials occur each day, five days a week, said Department of Correction spokesman Jason Kersten.

New York City has also shortened the amount of time it will hold unclaimed bodies before they are buried in the city’s potter’s field on the island, a one-mile, limited-access strip where more than a million mostly indigent New Yorkers are buried. 

Under the new policy, the medical examiner’s office will keep bodies in storage for just 14 days. City officials haven’t explained if the increase in burials is due to pressure on mortuaries to dispose of bodies more quickly. 

Coronavirus deaths mount: New York City examines 'temporary burials' on Hart Island, official says

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday that the city is considering temporarily burying unclaimed bodies of COVID-19 victims on the island as the death toll from the pandemic grows.

Aerial images taken Thursday by the Associated Press show workers wearing protective gear digging graves on the island. About 40 caskets were lined up for burial on the island on Thursday, and two fresh trenches have been dug in recent days. Take a look.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Show Thumbnails
Show Captions
Read or Share this story: