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July 1, 2011

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Safety concern over swimming in city's rivers

AS summer heats up, city residents are more likely to take a dip in local rivers and ponds to cool down, raising concerns about safety.

While warning notices are posted around creeks and pools advising people not to swim there, there is no official city body to oversee and enforce this.

Some areas notorious for drowning accidents are in the suburban areas of Minhang, Songjiang and Yangpu districts.

In the latest incident, a man drowned while swimming in a creek in Songjiang earlier this week.

And two years ago, a young man drowned in the Zhang-jiangbang River in Pudong New Area, a "famous" outdoor swimming spot.

Notices there advising people not to swim in the river are routinely ignored. Swimmers claim that as they're confident in the water, there's no need to worry.

Among groups who frequently swim outdoors are migrant workers, many of who cannot afford to go to swimming pools in the city.

Li Ming, a police officer in Songjiang District, said yesterday that they offered migrant workers free tickets to swimming pools in 2009.

"But it did not work well, as many migrant workers are not in the habit of using swimming pools," Li said. "Instead, they prefer rivers and ponds."

Li also said that while officers deal with the aftermath of accidents, there are no government departments responsible for prevention.

The city's water authorities is only responsible for the environmental protection of rivers and creeks, and cannot prohibit swimming.

Bella Wu, a 25-year-old local resident, complained that the city's swimming pools are expensive, especially for those who swim every day.

It usually costs 30 yuan (US$4.64) per hour in the city's swimming pools, and the monthly income of older citizens and migrant workers is around 2,000 yuan.

"Building more swimming pools and lowering prices would be the best way to solve the problem." Wu added.


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