The number of dead and rotten pigs retrieved from a river used as a source for drinking water for China's largest city has surpassed 12,000 as investigators try to root out all those involved in the dumping.
The Shanghai Daily reported Saturday (March 16) that at least 12,566 dead pigs have been pulled from Shanghai's Huangpu River, which provides drinking water to the city’s 23 million residents. Out of the total, 8,965 dead pigs have been found in the river since March 8.
The area of the river where the carcasses have been found is the source for nine water plants, which provide 22 percent of the drinking water.
The head veterinarian for China's Agriculture Ministry, Yu Kangzhen, who has traveled to the region to investigate the deaths, told state media that there has been no major swine epidemic, but said some samples tested positive for the common porcine circovirus and the epidemic diarrhea virus. However, the city government, citing monitoring authorities, said the drinking water quality has not been affected.
The pigs are largely believed to be from the upstream city of Jiaxing in neighboring Zhejiang province.
Jiaxing, where small hog farms are prevalent, reported Friday night that it had recovered 3,601 dead pigs from its streams, according to state media.
Jiaxing local media reported that more than 18,000 pigs from one village have died from illness in the last two months. The reports sparked fears that residents dumped all of the diseased animals in the river.
One farmer, tracked down from the ear label of a pig retrieved by Shanghai workers, had admitted throwing dead pigs in the river. Shanghai officials were checking 13 other different ear labels found on the dead pigs to find out who else was responsible.
In China, pigs that have died from disease are to be either incinerated or buried, officials say.