Bodies of two people, who had died of the coronavirus disease, have been found at a discontinued mortuary of a hospital in Bengaluru after over a year, Deccan Herald reported on Monday.

The deceased persons have been identified as Durga, a resident of Chamarajpet locality in Bengaluru, and Muniraju, who lived in KP Agrahara area of the city. They had died due to the Covid-19 infection in July last year and their bodies had been stored at the old mortuary freezer at ESI Rajajinagar Hospital since then.

The bodies were discovered on November 27 as housekeeping staff cleaning up the old mortuary noticed a foul smell in the building, reported The New Indian Express. They then alerted the medical staff and the bodies were sent to Victoria Hospital for post-mortem examination.

A hospital staff told The New Indian Express that there were too many bodies in July last year so it was decided to shift them to a new mortuary with more capacity and the old one was shut down.

“However, the hospital staff neglected to take out these two bodies and forgot about them,” the staff member told newspaper. “It is a clear case of negligence by both the caretakers and nodal officer.”

Another staff member told Deccan Herald that stickers that need to be placed on freezers containing bodies were not affixed in case of Durga and Muniraju.

“Instead, in the mortuary log book, it was noted that the bodies had been given to the BBMP [Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike] for disposal,” the staff member added. “The Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike also neglected to cross-check that it has disposed of these bodies.”

An officer from the Rajajinagar police station said that they have registered a case of unnatural death and will take further action after the hospital authorities finish their departmental inquiries.

Meanwhile, Durga’s sister Sujhata recalled the situation in July 2020. “We were searching for a bed desperately but could not find any,” she told NDTV. “Eventually, we found one at ESI hospital. She died after four days in hospital.”

Sujhata said that the authorities did not hand over the body to them as they were infected with the coronavirus disease.

“After a few days, we received a call from the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, stating that they cremated the body,” she added. “It is almost 15 months now and three days back we received a call [about Durga’s body being discovered]. When we got the call, we were scared whether it was true or false.”

Muniraju’s son Satish said that this family too had asked for the body but were told that he has been cremated. “Later, when we went to collect the death certificate, they reiterated it and told us to sign the relevant documents,” Satish said.

Rajajinagar’s MLA Suresh Kumar has written to Karnataka Labour Minister A Shivaram Hebbar, requesting him to raise the matter with his ministry under which the hospital falls.

“The role of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and the ESI [Employees’ State Insurance] authorities is grave,” Kumar said. “In this regard, I request you order a high-level probe, get the detailed inquiry report and initiate stringent action against those who are responsible for this inhumane act.”