NEW DELHI (AFP) - India said on Monday (May 24) that it had passed 300,000 deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, the third country after the United States and Brazil to hit the figure, as a huge wave of infections overwhelms the healthcare system.
The South Asian nation's toll now stands at 303,720 after adding 50,000 deaths in just under two weeks, as the total number of infections rose above 26.7 million, Health Ministry data showed.
India has been hitting record single-day rises in infections and fatalities in recent weeks amid the brutal surge.
It reported 4,454 Covid-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, the second-highest daily toll since reaching a record 4,529 on Wednesday.
Many experts believe the real number is much higher, particularly as the disease spreads beyond major cities into rural areas where the majority of the 1.3 billion population lives and where health facilities and record-keeping is poor.
The wave has overwhelmed hospitals with patients, and led to a severe shortage of oxygen and critical drugs.
Harrowing images of long queues for funerals and makeshift pyres have also emerged from crematoriums and cemeteries.
Bodies of suspected Covid-19 victims have meanwhile been seen floating down the holy Ganges river or buried in shallow graves.