Heatwave overwhelms postmortem facility in northern India, bodies lying outside due to lack of functional freezers

Heatwave overwhelms postmortem facility in northern India, bodies lying outside due to lack of functional freezers

A postmortem facility in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh is struggling to cope with an influx of bodies due to a recent surge in heat wave-related deaths.

The incident took place in Noida’s Sector 94, Gautam Budh Nagar district, and the news went viral on June 20.

Visuals showed the bodies lying outside the facility, people passing by covering their noses due to the bad smell of the rotting bodies and flies flying around and over the lifeless bodies.

According to reports, the facility, designed to hold only four bodies in freezers, is currently overwhelmed with 75 bodies awaiting autopsy, forcing officials to keep many bodies outside in the open under the scorching sun.

Compounding the crisis, only one of the four freezers is functional, leaving bodies exposed to the intense heat. Health department officials confirmed that autopsies are ongoing, but the situation remains dire.

Dr. Sunil Sharma, Gautam Budh Nagar’s chief medical officer (CMO), explained, “Prior to the heatwave, we had about five to six bodies sent for autopsy daily. However, in the past three days, we have received 75 bodies.” The health department recorded 28 bodies on June 18, 25 on June 19, and 22 on June 20, with ten of these bodies remaining unidentified.

The sudden surge in workload initially overwhelmed the facility’s single doctor, but additional staff has since been brought in. “Previously, one doctor was performing six to eight autopsies a day. Now, we have deployed more doctors. On Tuesday, three doctors were on duty,” Sharma added.

While some deaths resulted from accidents and poisoning, the heatwave is suspected to be a significant factor. Sharma noted, “The intense heat in Noida, with temperatures around 46°C, poses severe risks, especially for outdoor workers like daily wagers, security guards, and traffic personnel.”

Earlier this month, reports highlighted the poor conditions at the Sector 94 postmortem facility, including non-functional freezers. Addressing this issue, Sharma said, “Orders for new freezers have been placed, but delays have occurred due to unavailable parts. We are working on arranging them.”

The situation underscores the urgent need for improved facilities and resources to handle such emergencies effectively, highlighting the vulnerability of the population to extreme weather conditions.

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