Dozens of decomposed bodies were seen floating in Ganga river in Bihar’s Buxar district on Monday morning. The bloated bodies later piled up on the banks of the river in Chausa, a village located about 11 km from Buxar city, on Bihar’s border with Uttar Pradesh.

While some reports said there were around 10 to 12 bodies, others said there were 40-45 bodies. Some reports placed the number even higher, at 150 bodies. Villagers and officials suspect these are Covid fatalities who were thrown into the river, leading to massive panic and worry that residents will contract the coronavirus infection.

“They are bloated and have been in the water for at least five to seven days,” Chausa district official KK Upadhyay told NDTV. “We need to investigate where they are from, which town in UP.”

“We were alerted by the local chowkidar that many bodies have been spotted floating from upstream,” Chausa Block Development Officer Ashok Kumar told PTI. “We have so far recovered 15 of these. None of the deceased happens to be a resident of the district.”

Kumar added that many Uttar Pradesh districts were situated across the river and “the bodies may have been dumped in the Ganges for reasons not known to us”. He added that it was possible to confirm if they were Covid patients. “The bodies have started decomposing. But we are taking all precautions while ensuring that these are disposed in a decent manner,” he added.

“People are terrified of getting Covid. We have to bury the bodies,” villager Narendra Kumar told NDTV. “A district administration official came and said they would pay Rs 500 for cleaning up the bodies.”

Such incidents have happened in other places as well. On Sunday, several videos showed corpses, also believed to be of Covid-19 patients, seen floating in the Yamuna river near Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh. Some locals had claimed that fear of cremation was leading to the bodies being immersed in rivers.