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November 5, 2012

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Modern tragedy: Man dies alone but body found months later

A SOLITARY man was found dead in his home in Hongkou District over the weekend after he had not been seen for months, police confirmed yesterday.

The tragedy, again, raised questions about modern living, especially indifference toward others and lack of caring among neighbors.

The 51-year-old loner, Qian Zhonghong, never married. He was found dead in the kitchen when the police broke into the house in Zhonglie residential area at 32 Changzhong Road on Saturday and his body was highly putrefied, police said.

"Apparently he had been dead for a while, maybe for months," said Zhou Yingbin, a media coordinator of Hongkou police. "So far we've ruled out the possibility of homicide and our medical examiners are still working on the cause and time of his death."

Qian was a quiet and lonely man, seldom speaking to others, although he had been living in the apartment for five years, neighbors said. He was last seen in early July talking about the election with neighborhood committee officials, according to the Shanghai Evening Post.

"He was slim and short and did not talk much and I don't even know his full name," said Qian's next-door neighbor. "I only remember he liked to speculate in the stock market and always went to the securities company nearby."

Qian's parents are no more and his two brothers were his only family. One of his brothers came visiting on Friday after he could not get Qian on the phone for three months. The brother felt something was amiss when no one answered the door. He came back the next day with the other brother and they called the police when there was still no answer to their knocking.

Qian had been reduced to mere bones when he was found, neighbors said.

Stinky smell

The time of death could probably be around July when a stinking smell was felt over the corridor, neighbors said.

Xu Chunxian, director of Jiangwan Town neighborhood committee, said they had investigated the odor in the summer and attributed it to some dead animals. The smell was later forgotten after it dissipated.

Xu said the neighborhood committee was in frequent touch with lonely elderly people aged above 65 but had never thought about middle-aged people who live alone. "He was only in his early 50s and we never heard he had any healthy problems. None of us could imagine this."

Besides the smell, Qian's mailbox was also neglected, filled with letters and utility bills.

Neighbors assumed that Qian was probably out traveling.

Xu said Qian had not moved his residence permit to the apartment and the committee only knew he lived alone but had no contact with his family.


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