Firefighters in Italy have said they discovered the decomposing remains of a woman who died in her home two years ago.
Marinella Beretta, 70, lived alone in her house near Lake Como in Lombardy and was last seen alive by her neighbours in September 2019.
They reportedly believed she had moved away towards the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, which hit northern Italy in early 2020, however she was discovered dead in her home on Friday, February 4.
Firefighters with the Como fire brigade arrived at Beretta's home following complaints a tree had fallen in her garden as a result of overgrown vegetation.
Como City Hall press officer Francesca Manfredi confirmed to CNN they discovered Beretta's body in her home, with CNN affiliate SkyTg24 reporting on Monday that she was found sitting in a chair in her living room.
The cause of Beretta's death has not been confirmed, according to Manfredi, though the medical examiner determined the 70-year-old woman passed away sometime towards the end of 2019 based on the extent of decomposition. Police found nothing at the scene to suggest there was foul play involved in her death, Sky News reports.
The discovery of Beretta has resulted in calls for better care for older people in Italy, with family and equal opportunities minister Elena Bonetti saying her 'forgotten loneliness hurts consciences.'
In a post on Facebook, she wrote (translated): 'Remembering her life is the duty of a community that wants to stick together... Taking care of each other is the experience of families, institutions, and our citizens. No one has to be left alone.'
Como mayor Mario Landriscina has invited local residents to attend Beretta's funeral and encouraged people to acknowledge her death for a 'moment of reflection'.
He commented: 'It is a tragedy that occurred in a context complicated by the pandemic, from a closed and isolated city. Who knows how much this woman suffered. Now is the time to give witness and I invite the city to be present.'
A date for the funeral has not yet been set, though Landriscina told local media the local government would take care of the arrangements and that he would try to be there himself, adding: 'This is the moment to be together, and even if this woman had no relatives, we could become her relatives.'
No family members have come forward following the discovery of Beretta's body but police continue to investigate whether she has any surviving family members. Her body remains at the morgue.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677