Shanghai’s rivers are in hot water for the second time this year after hundreds of kilos of dead fish were found rotting in one of the mega-city’s waterways.
Just weeks after over 16,000 putrefying pigs were pulled from Shanghai’s Huangpu river, more than 250kg [550 lbs] of dead carp had to be retrieved from a river in the city’s Songjiang district.
Mystery still surrounds the cause of death, but numerous explanations have surfaced in the Chinese media since residents first complained about the foul-smelling fish last Monday.
Theories reportedly include climate change, electrocution, an explosion or even a drug overdose.
The Shanghai Daily quoted a local government official who “speculated” the fish could have been “drugged”.
“Small fish died earlier because they’re more sensitive to toxins,” the official, named as Mr Gao, told the newspaper.
China has become notorious for its polluted rivers, largely as a result of decades of unbridled economic growth. Last year a senior official conceded 20 per cent of the country’s rivers had become “too toxic for human contact”.
Shanghai authorities have so far denied the “fish kill” was caused by water pollution, citing the absence of chemical plants near the river.
Whatever the cause, authorities insist there is no risk to public health or drinking water sources.
“The river’s quality hasn’t been affected by the dead fish so far. It remains the same level as usual,” an official named as Mr Zhang told the China Daily. He did not explain what the usual level was.
Nor was there a connection between the dead carp and the thousands of rotting pig carcasses pulled from Shanghai’s Huangpu last month, local environmental official Liu Fengqiang said.
One river-dweller told the China Daily he had stopped using tap water in the wake of the two scandals. “I need to trust my sources of water. I’m still haunted by the dead pigs,” Shi Hua said.
Meanwhile, samples of the dead fish have been sent for testing and the fish themselves have been laid to rest.
“All the dead fish plucked out of the water were buried safely,” the Shanghai Daily reported.