Mumbai / Thane: As many as 35 unclaimed bodies have been rotting at the state-run Thane Civil Hospital’s mortuary, as its air-conditioning system has been malfunctioning over the past week. Matters came to a head on Tuesday, when the cooling system stalled completely, forcing the hospital to issue a notice that it would not be accepting any unclaimed bodies.
With doctors and hospital staff running the risk of contracting infections owing to the unsanitary conditions, hospital authorities have contacted the Thane Police, not only citing their inability to accept any further bodies, but also instructing them to remove the 35 bodies that are currently decomposing at the morgue.
The mortuary deals with an average of around 10 bodies each day. The corpses need to be removed from the mortuary in order to overhaul the cooling system, the hospital has told the police.
Staff at the hospital say that the morgue is in dismal condition, and the unbearable stench from the decomposing corpses has raised concerns of infections.
“We have started using masks to protect us from the infections which can spread from rotting dead bodies. But this does not save us from the stench of the bodies. We are not able to go anywhere near the morgue,” said a ward boy from the hospital, on the condition of anonymity.
Dr Kailas Pawar, Thane District Civil Surgeon said the Thane Police has been instructed to take away the unclaimed bodies immediately, as the smell was affecting the health of hospital staff.
“There is some technical issue with the air cooler of the morgue, so we had to stop taking bodies. Also, we needed to vacate the morgue for the purpose of sanitisation,” Pawar told the Free Press Journal.
The Thane Police is now in a quandary on how to deal with the bodies that are already at the hospital. They will either have to be shifted to another morgue or disposed of.
As per the rules, an unclaimed body can be disposed of within four days of its recovery if police fail to identify the person. But, if police probe requires further preservation of the body, the preservation period can be extended to a maximum period of eight days.
“We are trying to get permission to preserve few bodies at other hospitals and we would cremate the others as per the requirements,” said a senior officer from Thane Nagar police station.
“The body of an unidentified woman, believed to be 55 years of age, was found in Parsik tunnel in Thane. We rushed to the spot and found the woman to be dead.
She was taken to Civil Hospital for a post mortem, but the hospital staff told us the body would have to be shifted as maintenance work on the ACs was in progress in the mortuary room,” said Suresh Sewale, a constable with the Government Railway Police, Thane.
Dada Dhondave, a police constable from Thane GRP said, “Nearly 7-8 unclaimed bodied were kept at Thane Civil Hospital’s morgue for the last two months.
After several calls from the hospital asking us to take the bodies away, the final rites for five of the deceased were performed at a crematorium on Tuesday, and another two on Wednesday.”
This is not the first instance of such a problem at the hospital. In October 2018,the hospital had to close down its morgue for a week owing to a non-functional AC system.