Drone Footage Shows Mass Coronavirus Graves On Hart Island In New York

On Thursday the state reported another 10,000 coronavirus infections, and there are now more cases there than in any country in the world.
NYC coronavirus hart island mass graves
AP Photo/John Minchillo

They were already visible from space, and now the mass graves New York is digging to bury people killed by coronavirus have been shown in detail in grim drone footage.

The video footage shows workers in hazmat suits stacking caskets on top of each other in huge trenches in the ground on Hart Island in New York City.

The footage shows forklifts being used to deliver the caskets to the workers who then stack them one on top of another. The images show dozens of plain pine coffins buried inside the trench.


Workers have to use a ladder to descend into the huge pit where the caskets were stacked.

New York is among the hardest-hit places on the planet by the pandemic, and its morgues and emergency rooms have been overwhelmed as a result.

On Thursday, the state reported another 10,000 infections bringing the total to almost 160,000. This means that if New York were its own country, it would have more confirmed cases than any other nation. The two hardest-hit countries in Europe, Spain and Italy, have confirmed 153,000 and 143,000 cases respectively.

The city has used Hart Island to bury those with no next of kin and those whose families can not arrange a funeral since the 1800s.

Typically, inmates from Rikers Island prison have conducted the burials, but because of the scale of the task facing officials in New York right now, the city has hired contract laborers to help bury the dead.

READ: You can see New York’s mass graves from space

Typically 25 bodies are buried there every week. Now, that many are being buried on the island every single day, a spokesman for the Department of Corrections, which oversees the burials, told Reuters.

New York City’s medical examiner told AP on Thursday that the city will now only hold unclaimed bodies for 14 days, down from the usual 30 day limit, before they are transferred for temporary interment at a city cemetery.

The bodies are wrapped in plastic and placed in pine coffins, and the names of the deceased are scrawled in large letters on the lid of the coffin in case they need to be disinterred at a later date.


According to satellite images provided to Motherboard by geospatial data company Maxar Technologies in Colorado, the burial trenches in New York City were already visible from space four days ago, on April 6.

READ: These 30 regimes are using coronavirus to repress their citizens

New York is not the only place where officials have been forced to dig mass grave sites during the pandemic. In March, the Washington Post reported that in Iran, two burial trenches 100 yards long — about the length of a soccer field — at Behesht-e Masoumeh cemetery in the Shia holy city of Qom, were visible from space.

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Cover: Workers wearing personal protective equipment bury bodies in a trench on Hart Island, Thursday, April 9, 2020, in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)