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Dozens of bodies found in trucks outside New York funeral home

 

New York City police officers stand by at the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York - AP

Police were called to a Brooklyn neighbourhood on Wednesday after a funeral home overwhelmed by the coronavirus resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks, and a passerby complained about the smell.

Investigators who responded to a 911 call found that the home had rented four trucks to hold as many as 100 corpses. No criminal charges were brought.

The Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home was cited for failing to control the odour.

Workers suited up in protective gear could be seen in the afternoon transferring bodies into the refrigerated truck.

New York City funeral homes have struggled as at least 18,000 people have died in the city since late March. Funeral homes say they are facing weeks-long backlogs to bury or cremate the dead.

New York City police officers stand by at the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York – AP

The city set up temporary morgues. Hospitals used refrigerated tractor trailers to cart away multiple bodies at a time, sometimes loading them in public view on the pavement. Crematoriums have been backed up. Funeral directors across the city have pleaded for help as they have run out of space.

The NYPD notified the state Department of Health, which oversees funeral homes, about the situation at the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams went to the scene on Wednesday evening. He told the Daily News: “While this situation is under investigation, we should not have what we have right now, with trucks lining the streets filled with bodies.”

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home - AP
Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T. Cleckley Funeral Home – AP

He said “it was people who walked by who saw some leakage and detected an odor coming from a truck.”

John DePietro, who owns the building next door to Mr Cleckley, said he saw five vehicles parked outside the funeral home on Tuesday.

“They had dead bodies in the vans and trucks,” Mr DePietro told the New York Times. “They were on top of each other in body bags.”

He added he could not “judge for sure” how many bodies were in the vehicles, “but all of them were packed.”

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