Government works to promote sea burials

A memorial ceremony was held over the weekend for families opting for sea burial at the Binhai Guyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District ahead of the Qingming Festival on April 5.

A MEMORIAL ceremony was held over the weekend for families opting for sea burial at the Binhai Guyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District ahead of the Qingming Festival on April 5.

Since 1991, there have been 357 sea burials with 40,520 urns of ash scattered at sea, according to the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Service Center.

The government also offers subsidies — 4,600 yuan (US$729) — to families who favor sea burials for their loved ones in an effort to save land. From the subsidy, 1,600 yuan is used to pay the ship fare, insurance and service fees.

Sea burial is slowly gaining acceptance among the public, accounting for 3 percent of the total number of burials, up from 1.5 percent in previous years, the center said.

“Families usually have to wait half a year to scatter the ashes because of weather and ferry capacity,” said Liu Weibin, deputy manager of Shanghai FIS Funeral Service Center, which organizes sea burials.

Sea burials can only be done in April, May and October because of weather.

Meanwhile, 17 stations along seven Metro lines 2, 5, 8, 9, 11, 16 and 17 will have shuttle buses to take passengers to the cemeteries during the April 5-7 Qingming break. The Metro operators said extra trains will be added on these lines to facilitate passenger flow.

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