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Coronavirus: In New York: Hundreds Of Bodies Buried In Mass Grave On Island (Pics)

Workers wearing hazmat suits have been spotted burying caskets in a mass grave on New York's Hart Island as the number of burials quadruples amid the coronavirus pandemic and the city's death roll rises to more than 4,200.

The caskets were stacked three on top of each other in the mass grave as inmates used a digger to help transport the bodies.

Normally, about 25 bodies bodies are buried each Thursday on Hart Island.

That number increased to 72 since the end of March and now to about 100 when coronavirus fatalities increased drastically in the city, according to the Department of Corrections.

Those currently buried on Hart Island include people who haven't been identified, unclaimed bodies and people whose families could not afford burial costs.

Workers wearing hazmat suits and other protective gear were spotted burying caskets in a mass grave on New York's Hart Island on Thursday.

The refrigerated truck that was brought onto the island is the same as those currently parked outside hospitals across Manhattan as part of makeshift morgues set up to deal with the number of people dying from the coronavirus outbreak.


Hart Island, sometimes referred to as Hart's Island, has a grisly history and started being used as a cemetery during the civil war in 1868 and there are now more than a million bodies buried there.

Since then it has been used as a women's psychiatric institution, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a potter's field burial site and storage for Cold War anti-aircraft missiles.

After its first use as a cemetery in 1868, the island started to be used as a potter's field for unmarked graves and accounts from the time describe bodies piling up on the island after being transported from hospitals in the city.

By 1958, burials there exceeded 500,000 and it has been used to house the bodies of victims of the 1870 yellow fever epidemic and the 1919 Spanish Flu outbreak.

During the Spanish Flu, when more than 500,000 Americans died, thousands were buried at Hart Island as city burial sites were overwhelmed.

In more recent times, thousands of unclaimed AIDs victims have been buried on the island.

The first were buried in 1985 away from other graves, in the belief that AIDs could infect dead bodies.

In one 200-foot trench the remains of 8,904 babies were buried between 1988 and 1999

It returned to being used as a common grave in the 1980s and is still used to bury unknown or unclaimed people with bodies from across New York taken to the site twice a week and laid to rest by inmates at Rikers Island.

Due to a New York State law from the 1850s and last amended in 2007, a dead person's next of kin on have 48 hours after death to claim a body for burial.

If the body is unclaimed it becomes legally available as a medical cadavar to be used for training at medical schools or mortuary classes.

The island, which can only be accessed by ferryboat, was sold to the city in 1868 and became a final resting place for unclaimed bodies and those used by medical schools.



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