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China: Safety Fears As More Dead Pigs Found
Residents of Shanghai have become increasingly concerned about contaminated water as the number of dead pigs found floating in a river rose to nearly 7,000.
The pig carcasses started appearing in Shanghai on Saturday and are thought to have been dumped in the city's main Huangpu river further upstream after dying of disease.
Workers have been removing the carcasses but have been overwhelmed as increasing numbers of dead pigs have appeared.
Local television showed men digging a mass grave and then dumping dead pigs from a cargo net into the hole, as a worker in a white biohazard suit poured disinfectant on the carcasses.
Shanghai's government has denied that its water is unsafe, saying: "Treated water meets national drinking water hygiene standards."
However, residents have continued to question the government assurances as the problem has worsened.
One comment posted on an online forum, under the name of Youshan Wanshui6_6, said: "So many dead pigs and the water quality has not been affected. Who are you fooling? Do you think people are idiots?"
Shanghai has pointed the finger at Jiaxing in the neighbouring province of Zhejiang, a major centre for pig breeding.
A Jiaxing official has admitted that some of the dead pigs could be from the area.
In an online chat on the website of the People's Daily newspaper, the unnamed agriculture official said: "We do not rule out the possibility of dead pigs in Jiaxing's waterways floating into Shanghai.
"But as far as we grasp the current situation, there are dead pigs from areas outside Jiaxing also flowing in," he said.
The official added that a handful of tags found on the dead pigs in Shanghai had been traced to a local producer and police were bringing a case against the individual, who was not identified.
Shanghai's agricultural commission said on Monday that some of the animals had tested positive for porcine circovirus, which it described as a common swine disease that does not affect humans.
The city has tightened supervision over its markets to avoid tainted meat from the dead pigs being sold to consumers, the Shanghai Daily said.
Meat producers in China sometimes sell animals that have died from disease, instead of disposing of them, amid lax food safety laws.
Around half of the world's 1.3m pigs slaughtered annually for meat are raised in China, many of which are reared in intensive farms which have been accused of promoting the spread of disease.
In 2007, an outbreak of high fever blue ear disease in pigs in China affected 50 million animals.