MILAN, March 19 (Reuters) — Italy ordered the army to move bodies from a northern town at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak where funeral services have been overwhelmed as the government prepared to prolong emergency lockdown measures across the country.
Video shot by local people in Bergamo, northeast of Milan, and shown on the website of the local newspaper Eco di Bergamo, showed a long column of military trucks driving through the streets overnight and removing coffins from the town’s cemetery.
This isn’t a war or movie scene. What you’re seeing are military trucks conveying coffins of #Coronavirus victims from Bergamo, Lombardy, Italy to a cremation Center. There’s no more space for them in d hospitals. I’ve never seen anything similar. In #Nigeria, our govt is joking pic.twitter.com/KSHGd0U3BS
— 𝓓𝓻 𝓔𝓵 𝓜𝓸 𝓐𝓽𝓲𝓴𝓾 𝓐𝓫𝓾𝓫𝓪𝓴𝓪𝓻 (@DRElMo_ATIKU)
An army spokesman confirmed on Thursday that 15 trucks and 50 soldiers had been deployed to move bodies to neighbouring provinces. Earlier local authorities in Bergamo had appealed for help with cremations after they had overwhelmed its crematorium.
Italy recorded the largest ever one-day increase in coronavirus deaths on Wednesday as the total rose by 475 to almost 3,000. There were more than 300 deaths in the region of Lombardy alone, where Bergamo, the worst-hit province with more than 4,000 cases, is located.
Italy went into virtual lockdown before other countries in Europe but, with cases still rising, the government is considering even tougher measures that would further restrict the limited amount of outdoor movement currently permitted.
A #Bergamo hanno dovuto chiamare l’esercito per caricare camion e camion di bare da destinare a crematori fuori regione. Prima di lamentarvi della proroga del #lockdown riguardatevi sto video in loop.#coronavirusitalia pic.twitter.com/ofR1raGVTb
— Alessandro Zanoni (@AlexZan87)
On Thursday, the Corriere della Sera newspaper quoted Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte as saying the government would extend the deadline on current emergency measures closing schools and many businesses. The measures currently order most shops to stay shut until at least March 25 and schools till April 3. Conte did not say how long the measures would be prolonged.
Officials have said tougher measures could be needed because too many people are not respecting the order to stay at home for all but essential purposes, and thousands are still falling ill.
My hometown, Bergamo (Italy): The vehicles from the army move coffins out of the city as the crematorium is struggling to cope.
(I was unsure about posting. But I saw a video of students irresponsibly partying in Florida during semester break.) #COVID19 pic.twitter.com/wgH439BWe9
— Guido Salvaneschi (@guidosalva)
The images of army trucks evacuating bodies underlined the extent to which health services in the worst-affected northern regions of Italy have been stretched to breaking point by the crisis.
Giacomo Angeloni, the local official in charge of cemeteries in Bergamo, said earlier this week the crematorium was working around the clock and handling around 24 bodies a day, almost twice its normal maximum, and was unable to keep up.
There is an enormous disaster taking place in #Italy right now.
Around 500 people a day die from the #Coronavirus
This is a church in #Bergamo which has more bodies than they can bury pic.twitter.com/UWYDR8FmTS
— BasedPoland (@BasedPoland)
With mortuaries overflowing, the pews of the crematorium church have been removed to leave space to lay out scores of coffins but more have been arriving every day.
Doctor in Italy’s hard-hit coronavirus city of Bergamo makes desperate appeal for help in video message pic.twitter.com/CiH7ZbgSf5
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow)
Lombardy provincial governor Attilio Fontana said doctors and nurses in the region’s hospitals were at their limits.
This content was originally published here.