Drone footage captures prisoners digging graves in hazmat suits on Hart Island as NYC eyes it as a mass temporary burial site for coronavirus victims after 437 die in a day, bringing city death toll to 3,485

Tuesday, April 7, 2020
By Paul Martin

Hart Island off the Bronx’s shore in NYC is being eyed to temporarily bury the coronavirus dead
It ordinarily is where unidentified bodies are buried and it is staffed by inmates in the city’s prison system
Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters Monday: ‘We may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can then deal with each family later – he added: ‘Obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island’
But drone footage from Thursday shows that coronavirus burials may have already been carried out on Hart Island as inmates are seen digging graves in hazmat suits
In a normal week, 25 bodies are buried there but that number has risen to 72 since the end of March
One former Rikers Island inmate who worked there said no one wants the ‘ghoulish’, low-paid job
He fears there are not enough inmates to do the job now because 1,000 have already been released
New York is the epicenter of US coronavirus outbreak with fatalities reaching 437 a day and 3,485 in total
Undertakers have become so overwhelmed a city official suggested doing temporary burials in a public park

By CHRIS DYER
DAILYMAIL.COM
7 April 2020

Drone footage shows inmates in hazmat suits digging graves on NYC’s Hart Island suggesting that coronavirus victims could already be being temporarily buried there, as morgues across the city continue to overflow and the death toll ticks up.

Drone footage taken on Thursday – which is the day bodies are buried there every week – by The Hart Island Project shows inmates in hazmat suits digging graves on the island, possibly for victims of the virus which has claimed more than 3,400 lives across New York City and sickened more than 72,000. Ordinarily prisoners are seen digging in their prison uniforms.

Mayor Bill de Blasio did not confirm whether burials for coronavirus victims had been or would take place there but told reporters Monday: ‘We may well be dealing with temporary burials so we can then deal with each family later.

‘Obviously, the place we have used historically is Hart Island.’

In a normal week, 25 bodies are buried there. According to Jason Kersten, a spokesman at the Department of Correction, which oversees the island, that number has risen to 72 since the end of March, when the virus exploded in New York City.

Hart Island is ordinarily used to bury unidentified or unclaimed bodies. It was used for bodies after the Spanish Flu.

Public officials sparked panic and disgust this week by claiming some of the dead would be temporarily buried in public parks across the city.

That suggestion, made by councilman Mark Levine, has since been dismissed but the question of what to do with the escalating body count remains pertinent.


Rikers Island inmates in hazmat suits dig graves on Hart Island on April 2. The island is where unidentified or unclaimed bodies have been buried for years. Now, the city is suggesting it could become a mass burial site for coronavirus victims. Burials ordinarily take place on Thursdays, which is when this video was filmed overhead

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