China authorities apologize over rapid cremations

AP News
Posted: Jan 15, 2013 2:20 AM

BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in southern China have apologized for rapidly cremating the remains of 46 landslide victims without first consulting relatives.

Reports on Tuesday said officials had hoped to avoid spreading disease and spare relatives the trauma of viewing the mangled remains. They also said the morgue in the remote part of Yunnan province had no refrigerator, requiring that remains be dealt with swiftly.

Residents who usually bury their dead after elaborate funerals protested the move, prompting the unusual apology that was reported by the official Xinhua News Agency and state broadcaster CCTV.

Local Chinese authorities sometimes seize the bodies of accident victims to prevent emotional scenes and to simplify compensation procedures. The cause of Friday's landslide amid steep, snow-dusted mountains remains under investigation, with some villagers blaming a local mining operation.