Photo by Proggie
It looks like local hospitals and funeral homes are in quite a predicament. Over half their mortuary drawers are being occupied by unclaimed bodies, thus leaving little space for new dead patients. This is not so much a problem for the recently deceased, but more of a problem for hospitals and funeral homes as this waste is imposing a huge financial burden and causing a waste of public resources.
Shanghai Daily reports that the problem is somewhat unprecedented:
“Families are charged 6 yuan (93 US cents) per day for keeping a body of their loved ones but we can’t charge anyone for unclaimed ones. We don’t know how to deal with unclaimed or unidentified bodies as there are no special laws or regulations to follow.”
In Zhongshan Hospital for example, 15 out of 36 drawers are full of unclaimed bodies, with one body having remained unclaimed for 12 years. And as the Shanghai Funeral and Interment Trade Association reports, the situation doesn’t look like it will improve anytime soon: about 70 percent of their mortuary space is being blocked. This is why they are asking for regulations to be changed and stricter.
As of right now, there are still some loopholes in how things are being handled, which leads to troublesome issues, according to secretary general of Shanghai’s civil affairs authority, Wang Hongjie:
“Though Shanghai has a regional rule allowing funeral parlors to cremate nameless bodies 15 days after receiving them, no one dares to do so for fear of disputes, which did take place.”
At the moment, the 15-day policy is hardly every applied out of fear that eventually the family will claim the body, and then demand compensation if they find the body cremated.
However, you’d think that leaving a body for 12 years was maybe a less-than-subtle hint that the mortuary wasn’t going to get complaints about premature cremation anytime soon.
By Nele Diels