Surprising Reason Northern Italy Crematoria Are Overwhelmed with COVID-19 Dead


ROME – With the Italian death toll from coronavirus passing 10,000, the country’s crematoria, especially in the northern region of Lombardy, are overwhelmed and are having to transport bodies to crematoria in other regions. More families of coronavirus victims are choosing cremation over burial, for fear of catching the virus from the dead.  

The number of corpses arriving at crematoria in the north of Italy has doubled since the coronavirus outbreak began and the plants in the north of Italy are overwhelmed, even those that work seven days a week, 24 hours a day.  

Altair is Italy’s leading company in crematoria, with 17 plants, mainly in the north of Italy.  

Michele Marinelli, spokesman for Altair, said this emergency situation has caused a level of saturation in the plants that has never been seen before.

Marinelli said cremation takes place for all the corpses for which the dead person or his relatives have requested it. The problem now is, he added, that in some areas of the north of the country, cremations have exceeded 50-60 percent, that is for every 100 deaths, 50-60 cremations are requested.

Coffins arriving from the Bergamo area are being unloaded from a military truck that transported them in the cemetery of Cinisello Balsamo, near Milan in Northern Italy, March 27, 2020.

Marinelli said in areas like Bergamo and Brescia where the number of dead has been particularly high, army trucks had to be called in to assist to take the corpses to other regions where they could be cremated.

Relatives of those killed by COVID-19 are also unable to grieve for their loved ones as they would like to.

In addition to the death of someone in the family, which is in itself dramatic, Marinelli noted that there is also the impossibility of being able to bid farewell to them by holding a funeral. He said this is a situation that Italy has never experienced.

Relatives attend a burial ceremony of victims of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the southern town of Cisternino, Italy, March 30, 2020.

Since the outbreak of coronavirus in Italy, the government has put a stop to funerals and religious ceremonies, in an effort to stop the spread of the virus.

There is no ban on burials – but many families choose cremation instead, due to the slim but not impossible chance that the virus from the dead body could still infect the living.  

Even families who choose burial are faced with a difficult situation.  Italy’s cemeteries are as overwhelmed as the cremation centers, with the backlog of bodies to be buried growing by the day.