New York: Images have emerged of coffins being buried in a mass grave in New York City, as the death toll from the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise in the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, a media report said on Friday.
The drone images come from Hart Island, off the Bronx in Long Island Sound, which has been used for more than 150 years by city officials as a mass burial site for those with no next-of-kin, or families who cannot afford funerals, said the BBC report. It is probable that many of the coffins are for coronavirus victims, but it was not clear whether they fall into the above categories.
Burial operations at the site have ramped up amid the pandemic from one day a week to five days a week, according to the Department of Corrections. As of Friday, New York state now has more coronavirus cases than any single country.
The state's confirmed cases jumped by 10,000 on Thursday to 159,937, of whom 7,000 have died, the BBC reported. The US as a whole has recorded 466,299 cases, the highest in the world and 16,686 deaths.
The news of the images have come after New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had indicated earlier this week that "temporary burials" might be necessary until the crisis had passed.
"Obviously the place we have used historically is Hart Island," the BBC quoted the Mayor as saying. Stay-at-home orders have in the meantime closed non-essential businesses in 42 states, while drastically slowing the US economy.
New data on Thursday showed unemployment claims topped 6 million for the second week in a row, bringing the number of Americans out of work over the last three weeks to 16.8 million.
Chicago meanwhile imposed a curfew on liquor sales from 9 p.m. on Thursday to stop the persistent violation of a ban on large gatherings.
The measure, due to remain in place until 30 April, comes after health officials this week said black Chicagoans account for half of all the Illinois city's coronavirus cases and more than 70 per cent of its deaths, despite making up just 30 per cent of the population.