About 80 bodies have been found floating in a stream of India’s Ganges, sparking renewed concerns on Wednesday (Jan 14) about the health of the sacred river where millions of Hindus cremate their dead, an official said.

The bodies were discovered in a shallow tributary of the Ganges near a cremation area in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police and a local official said. Television footage showed dogs and birds feeding on the bloated and decaying bodies floating in the stream, whose waters are thought to have receded recently.

An official estimated that 80 bodies have so far been retrieved but warn the figure may rise. “There could be around 100 bodies but we are yet to get an exact number,” district magistrate Saumya Agarwal told AFP by phone from Unnao district.

“It seems that as the water level has receded in the river, these bodies have surfaced. We are trying to figure out the reason. We have sent a team of doctors on the spot to collect the samples from bodies to investigate the case,” she added.

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