Authorities are today investigating how more than 100 bodies, many of them children, ended up floating in an offshoot of the Ganges River in northern India. Officials do not suspect a crime: Instead, they believe the dead were given water burials. The 102 bodies found floating near the village of Pariyar in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh were too badly decomposed for autopsies or identification, per an official. DNA testing is being done to determine where the bodies might have come from.
Officials were questioning how so many bodies could be discovered at the same time. While it's illegal to dispose of the dead in rivers, some practicing Hindus believe that giving an unwed girl a water burial will ensure she is born again into the family. Poverty also drives people to conduct water burials to avoid the cost of cremation, which at a minimum of about $40 is far above a poor person's monthly wage. Villagers first noticed the bodies yesterday after many of the corpses became stuck on a river bank with dogs and vultures circling the area. The narrow river breaks off from the Ganges just before passing Pariyar, about 17 miles from the state capital of Lucknow. "It seems these were in water for very long," police officer Ram Chander Sahu says. The bodies will be buried. (Read more India stories.)