Thousands of dead pigs found floating in Shanghai river

Update: Nearly 3,000 dead pigs have been found floating in Shanghai's main waterway, the Chinese city's government said Monday as residents expressed fears over possible contamination of drinking water.

SHANGHAI - Despite pledges on water safety by Shanghai authorities, public concerns remain after reports that another 300 dead pigs were found floating in the upper Songjiang section of the Huangpu River.

Xu Rong, head of Songjiang district's environment department, told online portal xinmin.cn that on Sunday morning 300 pig carcasses were retrieved by local authorities.

Twelve boats are working to retrieve the carcasses, which will be treated for potential biohazards, Xu said.

Since Thursday, dozens of dead pigs have been found in the upper Songjiang section of the Huangpu River. By Sunday, more than 1,200 pig carcasses had been retrieved.

The river is also the tap water source for some Shanghai residents.

Officials from water authorities in Shanghai said the drinking water in the Songjiang area has not been affected and meets safety standards. The water is being closely monitored. Immediate measures will be taken if any emergency is found, officials said.

Songjiang district is also carrying out tests on the water's E. coli and other bacteria.

In a bid to ensure the safety of the tap water, Shanghai's environmental protection and water supply departments have worked together to test the quality of the water and disinfect the water.

The Shanghai Agriculture Committee said no reports of animal epidemic outbreaks have been received in the city.

Local residents continued to express concern over the safety of the water.

"Is this water still drinkable after dead pigs were found floating in it?" said 60-year-old Liu Wanqing. "The government has a responsibility to conduct a thorough investigation and provide safe water to residents."

A netizen with the username Liuxijunyan wrote: "Where are these dead pigs from? If so many pigs were thrown into the river there must be something wrong with them. Why were they were thrown away? Maybe they were sick or dead."

This is not the first time dead animals have been found floating on the river, according to local residents.

The dead pigs in Shanghai were first reported on Thursday, when a netizen with the username Shaolinsidezhu1986 posted a picture online.

The picture showed at least seven dead pigs floating on the river. "This is the water we drink. In this water conservation area, dead animals' bodies can be easily seen. This is not the first time it happened," said the netizen.

"It's common to see dead pigs in the river, they were thrown into the water directly by farmers," said a villager in Songjiang district. The woman, quoted by Xinmin.cn, said the pigs may have drifted down from the upper streams.

Shanghai authorities are stepping up the coordination among the areas near the upstream of Huangpu River to track down the source of the dead pigs.

Local media reported that the pig carcasses may have come from farms on the upper tributaries in Zhejiang province.

The ear tags on the retrieved carcasses showed they are from Jiaxing and Pinghu in Zhejiang province, and some areas of Jiangsu province, according to Xinmin.cn.

An official from the agriculture department said Shanghai has a special system to treat dead pigs.

Under the system, the local community's agriculture department travels to farms to collect dead pigs and treat the carcasses for potential biohazards. Farmers receive compensation from the government. But this policy does not exist in neighbouring provinces, the report said.

It added that sick or dead pigs are often thrown out in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

From last winter to this spring, a large number of pigs died in Zhulin village of Jiaxing, which is dependant on raising pigs, Jiaxing Daily reported on March 6.

The village has more than 1,400 households, and almost every family raises pigs. In January, 10,078 pigs died; in February, 8,326 pigs died. More than 300 pigs died each day, according to the report.

The pigs are living overcrowded conditions where bacteria breed easily. Consequently, many became sick and died. But there is not enough land to bury the pig carcasses, and many of dead animals were thrown away, it said.

wanghongyi@chinadaily.com.cn

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