Thousands of unreported COVID deaths emerge in India

The COVID-19 death toll of an Indian state has dramatically surged after the discovery of thousands of unreported cases.

And it’s adding weight to the suspicion that the country's overall death tally is significantly more than the official figure.

The health department in the state of Bihar raised its coronavirus death toll from 5,424 to more than 9,429 on Wednesday (June 9).

The newly reported deaths had occurred last month.

And a district health official said they were investigating the lapse - blaming the oversight on private hospitals.

Indian hospitals ran out of beds and life-saving oxygen during a devastating second wave of coronavirus in April and May.

People died in parking lots outside hospitals and in their homes.

Many families also placed bodies in the holy Ganges river as crematoriums struggled.

Those people would likely not have been registered as COVID victims.

India has the second-highest tally of COVID-19 infections in the world, after the United States.

But health experts say they believe both coronavirus cases and deaths are being significantly undercounted across the country.

Partly because test facilities are rare in rural areas - where two-thirds of Indians live - and hospitals are few and far between.

India's official death toll is around 359,000 though The New York Times estimates it could be as much as 1.6 million

The government dismissed those estimates as exaggerated.

But the main opposition Congress party said that other states must follow Bihar's example and conduct a review of deaths over the past two months.

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