New York victims without family buried in mass grave on Hart Island
New York City has begun digging extra graves in its public cemetery, with pictures showing pine caskets stacked on top of each other in a large burial pit.
New York City officials say that Hart Island, which for decades has been used as the final resting place for people who died unclaimed, will also be used for unclaimed coronavirus victims.
Mayor Bill de Blasio responded Friday to concerns that mass burials would be necessary because of the high number of bodies caused by the pandemic.
Drone photos appeared to show groups of caskets being covered with dirt in long trenches on Hart Island.
About two dozen bodies are now being buried each day on an uninhabited island that serves as a potter’s field, up from about two dozen each week before the coronavirus hit the city.
Typically, some 25 bodies are interred each week by low-paid jail inmates working on the island, which sits off the east shore of the city’s Bronx borough and is accessible only by boat.
That number began increasing in March as the new coronavirus spread rapidly, making New York the epicenter of the global pandemic.
Officials in New York City have hired laborers to dig new trenches for mass graves in response to a surge in the number of deaths in the city.
Only people who have not been claimed by relatives or a loved will be buried there, Goldstein highlighted.
Despite the new rule from the medical examiner, Goldstein said as long as morgue officials make contact with a relative within 14 days, they will not be moved to Hart Island.
“These are people who, for two weeks, we have not been able to find anyone who says, ‘I know that person, I love that person, I will handle the burial,'” Goldstein said. “These are people who we have made zero contact with the family.”
People interred on the island are wrapped in body bags and put in pine caskets before being buried in long trenches, according to Reuters.
The caskets have the person’s name written on them beforehand to help identify each person if they need to be disinterred later.
Family members of people buried at Hart Island can make arrangements with the city to visit, but those visits have been suspended until further notice due to the crisis.