Govt apologizes for cremation

Source:Xinhua Published: 2013-1-15 0:28:02

Local authorities in Yunnan Province have apologized to the families of 46 landslide victims after cremating the bodies without their approval, a rescue official said Monday.

About 40 family members of landslide victims in Southwest China's Yunnan Province protested after the bodies were cremated without their approval, local official said on Monday.

A crowd gathered on the road to the landslide rescue and disaster relief headquarters in Zhenxiong county on Sunday night, blocking the passage of dozens of vehicles, county official Zhu Henghui said Monday.

The crowd did not disperse until 2 am Monday, Zhu said.

"Why can't I see my child for the last time?" Luo Yuanju, a migrant worker who hurried home after she got the tragic news that she had lost 29 relatives in the landslide, told the Beijing News. "This cremation was done without our approval. Why couldn't the authorities wait for one or two days?"

The landslide, which occurred in Gaopo village, Zhen-xiong  on Friday, killed 46 villagers and injured two.

Government authorities had cremated all the bodies by Sunday, triggering anger from the victims' families. According to the tradition of the village, where dwellers are mostly members of the Yi ethnic minority, the bodies of the dead are usually buried instead of cremated.

Lei Chuying, deputy head of Zhenxiong county, said cremation orders were given due to consideration of epidemic prevention and people's feelings.

"Many parts of the bodies were missing while the buried were dug out," Lei said, "The painful scene might cause trauma among relatives."

Zhou Chengwu, a manager at the county's funeral parlor, said the bodies had to be dealt with within 24 hours due to limited facilities.

Zhou said the parlor, founded in 1979, was being renovated and that they had to rent freezers to store the remains.

After being notified by the county government, workers with the funeral parlor cremated the bodies from 8 am Saturday to 9 am Sunday, he said.

A mourning hall was set up at the parlor on Monday morning where 46 urns were placed in the order of the victims' ages. The victims range from 4 to 80 years old.

More than 500 villagers have been moved to makeshift tents near the village over fears that any secondary disaster triggered by the landslide could further endanger their lives. Others have gone to stay with relatives and friends in other villages.

Makeshift huts will be built to replace the tents and provide shelter for disaster-affected residents, and plans to rebuild the village have been launched, another county head Chen Xiangjin said.

Chen said that a daily subsidy of 12.5 yuan ($2) per person will be given to those affected by the landslide for the coming three months. They will be given 40,000 to 50,000 yuan in relocation costs.

Xinhua - Global Times

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