Bodies are being left to rot on the side of the road as officials struggle to cope with coronavirus deaths in an Ecuadorian city.
At least 150 corpses were left on the street or kept in the homes of grieving relatives in Guayaquil as the deadly bug ravages the horror-struck port city.
The bodies were placed on the roadside in the desperate hope that authorities would be able to take them away but removals take up to three days due to a backlog.
Residents were even forced to use cardboard boxes as coffins as Ecuador’s official death toll hit 172 with at least 3,500 confirmed cases.
Ecuador’s vice president Otto Sonnenholzner apologised after residents posted images and videos of the bodies onto social media.
Authorities collected at least 150 of the corpses earlier this week, but did not confirm how many of the dead were victims of the outbreak.
Mr. Sonnenholzer, who is heading the country’s virus response, said in a statement broadcast by local media on Saturday:
‘We have seen images that should never have happened and as your public servant, I apologise.’
Authorities received a donation of 1,000 pressed cardboard-box caskets from local producers and delivered them for use in two local cemeteries.
A city hall spokesman said: ‘It’s so they can meet demand. There are either no coffins in the city or they are extremely expensive.’
The Guayaquil mayor’s office wrote on Twitter:
‘The cardboard coffins ‘will be a great help in providing a dignified burial for people who died during this health emergency.’
Ecuador reported 3,646 cases of the coronavirus on Sunday, including 180 deaths, the majority of them occurring in Guayaquil and its surrounding province of Guayas.