Several bodies that were buried in the sandbanks of the Ganga river in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj district have floated up in the last few days as the water level rose due to monsoon rains, NDTV reported on Thursday. These bodies were suspected to be of Covid-19 patients.

Around 70 corpses were removed by the city’s civic body in the last 15 days and cremated, according to Hindi news channel ABP News. Videos and images shot by local journalists at different river embankments in Prayagraj over the past two days showed the authorities fishing out the bodies.

During the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, reports had emerged from multiple cities along the Ganga in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar about bodies floating in the river or buried along its banks. The corpses were suspected to be of Covid-19 patients whose final rites could not be performed at crematoriums due to the huge rise in deaths at the time.

On May 14, Dainik Bhaskar had published a ground report that over 2,000 bodies were buried along the Ganga in a 1,140 km stretch, which covers 27 districts before the river enters Bihar.

Niraj Kumar Singh, a zonal officer of the Prayagraj Municipal Corporation, said that 40 bodies were cremated in the last 24 hours, NDTV reported. He added that some were suspected to be buried recently, as they had not decomposed yet.

The authorities, however, did not mention if the bodies were of Covid-19 patients. Responding to a question about a body with an oxygen tube in its mouth, Singh said: “You can see that the person was ill, and the family dumped the person here and went away. Maybe they were scared, I cannot say.”

Prayagraj Mayor Abhilasha Gupta Nandi, who was filmed helping with the cremations on the river banks, claimed that many communities in the state have a tradition of burying their dead. “Wherever we find exposed bodies because of the rise in water level in the river, we are carrying out cremations,” she added.