A man retrieves a dead body from the Yellow River in 2010. He says he finds 20 bodies every year and is paid 100 yuan (US$16) by the person's family for bringing back their remains. (Photo/CFP)
A post on the internet has claimed that over the past 50 years more than 10,000 dead bodies have been retrieved from the Yellow River in the area of Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province in northwestern China, but the government lacks appropriate means to deal with them. The post has drawn widespread attention and the city government has responded to the claims, reports the state-run China News Service.
The city government announced on March 28 that around 100 bodies on average are dredged from the river in the city every year, whether they were careless swimmers, people who fell in the river by accident, or people who have committed suicide. Most of the bodies flow downstream and get stuck near a local hydropower station.
The bodies in the river do not affect the quality of the water, says the city's environmental protection bureau, which conducts monthly inspections on the city's drinking water supply.
The city's civil affairs bureau said they have procedures in place for when a body is found. They assign staff members to retrieve the body and try to establish the person's identity. If they can do this, they contact the family of the victim to claim the body. They also make arrangements for the remains to be cremated.
The city also said they are working on policies to avoid others taking advantage of personal tragedies to charge money for retrieving the deceased on behalf of their families.