Fears were growing in Spain last night over the number of elderly dying of coronavirus after military units sent in to care homes to offer emergency aid found an unspecified number of bodies.
According to Spain's defence ministry, the military teams found that most of the staff in several privately run centres had stopped going to work after residents began to fall ill with Covid-19, leaving the sick and dying unattended.
Defence Minister Margarita Robles said "the full force of the law will be brought against those who do not fulfil their obligations".
Twenty-five old people died at one residence in Madrid, mostly without being transferred to hospital, while dozens more pensioners have perished in other privately run centres that were overwhelmed by the epidemic.
Spain's government has used its emergency powers to place private residences under the control of regional authorities.
The elderly are bearing the brunt of the epidemic in Spain, with 67pc of deaths from the virus involving patients over 80.
Meanwhile, health workers begged the government for more assistance after a video emerged of patients lying on the floor of a hospital in Madrid.
Staff demanded more protective equipment and extra resources to fight coronavirus after the death toll rose by 457 yesterday, the highest jump to date, reaching a total of 2,182.
Patients lay on towels or coats in the corridor of the Infanta Leonor hospital as they waited for treatment, footage posted on social media showed. (© Daily Telegraph, London)