Journalists Aniruddha Ghosal, Aijaz Hussain and Aijaz Rahi, joined by U.S.-based colleague Tim Sullivan, revealed how failures of India’s government during the pandemic have left Indians across the country — from the poor to the rich — struggling virtually on their own. Despite a surge of coronavirus illness and death within the AP staff in India, the team put together an intimate story that showed how the pandemic impacted Indians from all walks of life.

The story was born when, during a call, health and science reporter Ghosal noted that Indians across the social spectrum faced severe shortages of services and resources. Someone he knew was even asking where he could get wood for a funeral pyre. The team went out to look for people to tell the story, eventually narrowing the list to three families.

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Yamini Amrohi, right, poses with her grandson and late husband Ashok Amrohi, who died of COVID-19, at a restaurant in London, in an undated family photo. Ashok, a physician and retired diplomat who had traveled the world, contracted COVID and was sent to a hospital just outside New Delhi. He waited in a car outside the hospital for hours; he died a little after midnight, never having been admitted despite the pleas of his family.

Amrohi family via AP

Photographer Rahi went to the home of a woman who scavenged human hair in Bengaluru despite coronavirus concerns, and Ghosal provided photos from Delhi. Hussain reported details from family members whose stories were chronicled in the article, and enterprise correspondent Sullivan wove the piece together, capturing the poignancy and despair of the situation on the ground in India. From diplomats to sewer cleaners, no has been immune to the hardships wrought by the virus, as the medical system neared collapse and the government found itself unprepared.