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Dead go unburied in Ecuador as city runs out of coffins

UNBURIED corpses are piling up in Ecuador’s most populous city, with authorities rushing to secure cardboard caskets to deal with the rising demand as they have run out of wooden coffins.

Guayaquil has become the country’s epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak with more than 2,500 of Ecuador’s 3,700 total cases.

But authorities are struggling to cope, with bodies going missing and the price of wooden coffins rocketing.

Local officials explained that they were expecting a delivery of about 2,000 cardboard caskets to allow families to bury their dead.

“It’s so they can meet demand. There are either no coffins in the city, or they are extremely expensive,” a local authority spokesman said.

Footage of dead bodies piling up in the streets went viral last month, some of the dead being left in their homes as services struggled to cope.

Refrigerated lorries have been sent to the city to help store bodies with the city’s hospitals running out of space.

“It looks like a war-zone hospital. The things we have seen are straight out of a horror film,” a doctor at the Teodoro Maldonado Carbo hospital said.

Resident Sofia Liuchis explained that her father had died after being admitted to hospital with respiratory problems.

“That is where my nightmare began,” she said. The hospital lost her father’s body and didn’t find it until days later, badly decomposed.

“I went to most of the city’s funeral homes, and coffins were sold out … they wanted to sell one from US$1,300  (£1,050) plus US$300 more to do the paperwork I just had done for free,” she said.

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has announced plans for a special burial ground to bury the 3,500 people he believes could die as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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