A woman in India was found to have been living with the decomposing body of her sister for three days.

The police said Maroju Swathi, 24, died after showing COVID-19 symptoms for a few days, The Times of India reported. The shocking incident came to light Monday when the neighbors alerted the police about a stench emanating from the women's rented house.

Swathi had lived in the house with her younger sister in Peddapalli, a district located in the southern state of Telangana. The sisters' parents had died a few years ago, and they were working as domestic help for a living.

Swathi was reportedly suffering from fever for 10 days, but her sister, who was identified as Swetha, could not take her to the hospital as she did not have the money. Some days later, Swathi's fever subsided, but she suffered severe breathlessness. Four days ago, she died after her condition deteriorated.

Instead of performing her final rites, Swetha stayed with the body because she didn't have money for the funeral. She did not even inform the neighbors about the death, Telangana Today reported.

It remains unclear if Swathi was COVID-19 positive. An investigation is underway into the incident.

There have been two other instances where the sisters have lived with decomposed bodies, the police said. The women did so because they did not have the money to perform the final rites.

"Four years ago, their paternal grandmother died and they kept the body at home for two days without informing anyone. Prior to that, seven years ago, their maternal grandmother died and that time also, the sisters kept the body for two days at home before others noticed it," a police official said.

Swathi's body was sent to a local hospital Monday for an autopsy.

In July last year, a woman and her daughter in the eastern state of West Bengal were found living with the decomposed body of a 78-year-old man, who reportedly died more than a month before the discovery. The police said the incident came to light after neighbors alerted the authorities about a foul smell coming from the house. When the police arrived, they found the two women living with the corpse and going about doing their normal daily activities.

Dead body
Representational image Photo: Getty Images/ John Moore