China apologises over hasty cremation of landslide victims
Beijing: Chinese authorities have apologised to the families of the 46 landslide victims for cremating the bodies without their approval, following rare protests by the kin of the deceased.
The local civil affairs authorities in China's Yunnan province had cremated the bodies of the victims without consent of their families preventing them from seeing their loved ones one final time.
"Local authorities have apologised to the families of the landslide victims after cremating the bodies without their approval," state-run Xinhua news agency today quoted a rescue official as saying.
A spokesman with the rescue and disaster relief headquarters in Zhenxiong county said the cremation was carried out due to fears that the bodies might spread disease if left in the open for a long time.
Zhou Chengwu, a manager with the county's funeral parlor, said the bodies had to be dealt with within 24 hours due to limited facilities, Xinhua reported.
Zhou said the parlor, founded in 1979, was being renovated and that they had to rent freezers to store the remains.
"All we could get were six or seven freezers, which was far from enough," he said.
Many of the bodies retrieved from the mud were badly damaged and if the families saw them it could have triggered more psychological pain, the spokesman said.
The unauthorised cremation triggered rare protests from about 40 family members of the landslide victims.
People gathered on the road to the landslide rescue and disaster relief headquarters last night, blocking the passage of dozens of vehicles, county official Zhu Henghui said today.
The landslide, which occurred in the Zhenxiong village of Gaopo on Friday, killed 46 villagers and injured another two.
Government authorities had cremated all the bodies by yesterday, triggering anger from the victims' families.
According to the tradition of the village, where dwellers are mostly of Yi ethnicity, bodies of the dead are usually buried instead of cremated.
Moreover, the family members, most of whom worked in cities and escaped the disaster, said they did not even have a chance to say goodbye to their deceased relatives because of the unapproved and hasty cremation.