Coronavirus: Italy calls in military to move dead bodies
Cemeteries in northern Italy have become overwhelmed with corpses
The Italian military has been brought in to move the corpses of those who have died from coronavirus in a northern town as local funeral services became overwhelmed.
A spokesperson for the army said 15 lorries and 50 soldiers had been called into to take the bodies from the town of Bergamo, northeast of Milan, to neighbouring provinces. Local authorities had appealed for help with burials after their crematorium’s were overcome with bodies.
Video footage showed a long column of military trucks driving through the streets of Bergamo overnight and removing coffins from the town’s cemetery.
The hardest hit country in Europe by the coronavirus outbreak, Italy recorded 475 deaths on Wednesday to take the overall toll to nearly 3,000. Italy is in virtual lockdown as it struggles to contain the rising number of cases and its health system is completely overwhelmed.
Giacomo Angeloni, the local official in charge of cemeteries in Bergamo, said earlier this week the crematorium was working around the clock and handling around 24 bodies a day, almost twice its normal maximum, and was unable to keep up.
With mortuaries overflowing, the pews of the crematorium church have been removed to leave space to lay out scores of coffins but more have been arriving every day.
The provincial governor of Lombardy, a prosperous state in northern Italy, Attilio Fontana said doctors and nurses in the region's hospitals were at their limits.
"I'm worried about the possibility they could succumb physically and psychologically because if they were to succumb, it would really be a disaster," Angeloni told Radio Capital.
Schools are currently shut until April 3 hand the education minister said on Thursday the closures are likely to be extended.
Lucia Azzolina said schools would reopen only when there would be "certainty of absolute safety", adding that the end of the school year would depend on how well online lessons would go in coming weeks.
Updated: March 19, 2020 05:40 PM