India Crematorium Hangs 'House Full' Sign Outside After Running Out of Space for Bodies as COVID Deaths Surge

COVID-19 cases continue to climb in India, overwhelming hospitals and burial grounds. As bodies pile up, many crematoriums with limited space are turning away families looking to cremate loved ones.

One crematorium in the South Indian state of Karnataka recently put up a "house full" sign outside its facility due to a lack of space to cremate bodies.

A crematorium in Karnataka's Chamrajpet put up a "house full" signboard outside the facility due to the lack of space as the Covid-19 deaths rise.#coronavirus #Bengaluru #crematorium

— IndiaToday (@IndiaToday) May 3, 2021

There are 13 electric crematoriums in Karnataka's capital city of Bangalore, according to India Today. The Karnataka government has also allotted 230 acres around Bangalore to Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike to use as a COVID-19 burial ground to reduce the burden on the crematoriums.

As of Monday, the Karnataka Department of Health and Family Welfare reported 239 COVID-related deaths. The total number of deaths in the state is 16,250.

There were 44,438 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the total number of active cases in the state to 444,734, according to the health department.

In April, Karnataka Revenue Secretary N. Manjunatha Prasad permitted the cremation and burial of dead bodies at the private land of the deceased's family, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Health Department.

The government said the decision was made after the families of the deceased issued several requests to allow them to cremate or bury the bodies in properties owned by them or their relatives, according to Indian Express.

India Crematorium
Funeral pyres of victims who died due to COVID-19 coronavirus at a crematorium ground in New Delhi, India, on May 2, 2021. Spaces in burial sites and crematoriums are limited and cannot keep up with the rising number of COVID-19 deaths. TAUSEEF MUSTAF/AFP via Getty Images

"There has been a steady rise in the number of deaths due to Covid-19 infection in the state," the order read. "It is prudent to swiftly and respectfully dispose the body in a decentralized manner keeping in view the grieving circumstance and to avoid crowding in crematoriums and burial grounds."

Government guidelines say that rituals for last rites that do not require touching the body are allowed, but the Indian tradition to "bathe, hug, embrace the departed with grief and reverence" should be avoided for the health and safety of the family and friends attending the service.

Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa also announced that citizens ages 18 to 44 will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting May 1.

There are currently 3,413,642 total active cases in India, bringing the total number of cases since the beginning of the pandemic to 19.9 million, according to the India Health Ministry. More than 218,959 people have died. However, many medical experts have challenged those numbers, believing the Indian government has grossly undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths.