China: Pig carcasses rise to 14 600

Beijing - A total of 14 600 dead pigs have been found in a river in eastern China near Shanghai, a news report said Tuesday.

An estimated 10 000 carcasses were found in the Huangpu River in Shanghai over the past two weeks, and another 4 600 upstream in Jiaxing, 100km further south-west, the Beijing-based Jinghua Shibao newspaper reported.

Eight farms have been fined for improperly disposing of carcasses by dumping them in the river, the report said.

The carcasses have prompted health concerns about water contamination, and the pigs' cause of death.

Authorities have assured the 23 million residents of the Shanghai urban area that the water supply, of which 20% comes from the Huangpu, is safe.

Tests on water and food supplies had been intensified, according to a report by the People's Daily.

A local official was quoted by the Jiaxing Daily last week as saying the cause of the deaths was "complicated" but the number was "within the normal range" expected in such a large population.

More than 18 000 pigs died in January and February in Jiaxing's Zhulin village, where most of the 1 400 households breed pigs, the report said.

Jiang Hao, an official from Shanghai's veterinary department, said Jiaxing breeds about 7 million pigs annually with a normal mortality rate of less than 3%, the China Daily newspaper said last week.

Tests have found a swine virus in the carcasses, but one that cannot be transmitted to humans, Tuesday's Jinghua Shibao report said. The report quoted authorities as saying there was no epidemic among the region's pig farms.

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