The body of a 50-year-old man who died in the intensive care unit of the Government Royapettah Hospital on Sunday was handed over to his family members three days later, much to their shock, in a highly decomposed state.

The relatives were forced to abandon the rituals before the cremation as other residents of the building where the deceased lived objected to the stench.

According to M.C. Amal Raj, a friend of the family, V. Ganesh, who was living alone in the city, was admitted to the hospital on Saturday evening after he complained of stomach ache.

He was apparently suffering from cyst in the pancreas and administered a couple of injections at the hospital. According to Mr. Raj, there was little hope of recovery at that stage.

On Sunday morning, the hospital staff found that he had died in his sleep. The body was shifted to the mortuary. His cousin, who came to the hospital later in the day, told the staff that Ganesh's close relatives, who are in the United States, would come to take the body.

But, when Mr. Ganesh's brother and mother went to the hospital on Wednesday, they were unable to identify the body. There was no attendant in the mortuary to help them.

“After a gruelling hour of going through racks of decomposed bodies, the brother identified him. The face was so disfigured that we did not allow the mother to see her son's face. We were told that the air- condition (AC) plant had not been functioning for eight hours,” Mr. Raj said. “The cremation was held in a hurry,” he added.

According to the hospital Superintendent K. Thyagarajan, there was a 15-minute delay in handing over the body. He said the mortuary attendant had stored the body in one of the chambers that had been handed over to the Public Works Department for renovation.

“The 35-year-old mortuary is under renovation. It has two chambers to store 50 bodies each. We have handed over one of them to the PWD for electrical work. We have been sanctioned Rs.5 lakh for installing a new AC plant. The work will be over in another 10 days,” Dr. Thyagarajan added.

He also said that the hospital disposed of 30 highly decomposed bodies on Wednesday after the above incident.

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R. SujathaJune 28, 2012