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Police called after New York funeral home puts bodies in rented trucks

A passer-by called authorities to complain about the smell coming from the trucks.

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Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Workers move bodies to a refrigerated truck from the Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home in the Brooklyn borough of New York (Craig Ruttle/AP)

Police have been called to a New York City neighbourhood after a funeral home overwhelmed by coronavirus resorted to storing dozens of bodies on ice in rented trucks, and a passer-by complained about the smell, officials said.

Investigators who responded to a 911 call found that the home had rented four trucks to hold about 50 corpses, according to a law enforcement official.

The Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home in Brooklyn was cited for failing to control the odours, but no criminal charges were brought.

The home obtained a larger, refrigerated truck later in the day, the official said, and workers in protective gear could be seen in the afternoon transferring bodies into it.

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The coronavirus pandemic has overrun most funeral homes and morgues in New York City (Craig Ruttle/AP)

The coronavirus pandemic has overrun most funeral homes and morgues in New York City (Craig Ruttle/AP)

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The coronavirus pandemic has overrun most funeral homes and morgues in New York City (Craig Ruttle/AP)

New York City funeral homes have struggled since late March. The city set up temporary morgues, and hospitals used refrigerated tractor trailers to cart away multiple bodies at a time, sometimes loading them in public view on the pavement.

Crematoriums have been backed up, and funeral directors across the city have pleaded for help as they have run out of space.

The NYPD notified the state Department of Health, which oversees funeral homes, about the situation at the Andrew T Cleckley Funeral Home.

Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams went to the scene on Wednesday evening. He told the Daily News: “While this situation is under investigation, we should not have what we have right now, with trucks lining the streets filled with bodies.

“It was people who walked by who saw some leakage and detected an odour coming from a truck.”

PA