Italy's military deployed to transport bodies of those killed by coronavirus outbreak

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The northern Italian city of Bergamo, which is the nation’s worst-hit by the coronavirus, received help from the military Thursday to transport bodies to nearby towns to be cremated.

A convoy of at least 10 military trucks arrived in Bergamo, which sits northeast of Milan in the Lombardy region, to pick up coffins from the city crematorium and several morgues overwhelmed by the recent spike of deaths, national newspaper Corriere Della Sera reported.

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The mayor of Bergamo, Giorgio Gori, received help from 12 neighboring northern Italian towns to cremate 67 of the dead. He promised their ashes would later return to Bergamo, the local newspaper L'Ecio Di Bergamo reported. Even operating around the clock, Bergamo’s crematorium could only cremate 25 bodies a day, a spokesman said, according to Sky News.

Bergamo is the most heavily hit town in Italy by the coronavirus outbreak, recording at least 93 deaths and at least 4,305 cases in the city as of Wednesday.

About 60 percent of Bergamo’s roughly 120,000 residents could be infected by the novel virus, Mirco Nacoti, an anesthesiologist and intensive-care specialist, estimated to the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.

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A video posted by Italian journalist David Carretta on Monday compared obituary lists in two issues of the local newspaper L'Ecio Di Bergamo. The obituary section spanned 10 pages in a copy dated March 13, compared to only about a page and quarter in an earlier edition dated February 9, which fell the outbreak in Italy became widespread.

Funeral services have been suspended in Italy amid a nationwide lockdown that began March 7. A video posted by the Italian newspaper Il Messaggero showed coffins lined up in one Bergamo church. Coffins were also seen stacked at three morgues, two belonging to a hospital and one to a cemetery in Bergamo, as burials are backlogged, Business Insider reported.

The number of people to have died from coronavirus in Italy has now surpassed China, where the disease originated in late December, according to figures released Thursday. The death toll in Italy over the past 24 hours rose by 427 to 3,405, officials said.

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Some 3,245 people have died in China since the virus first emerged there about three months ago, but Italy's outbreak only came to light on February 21. Overall, Italy has recorded 41,035 infections, more than half of the world’s positive cases, according to the Associated Press.