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December 23, 2009

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Tomb-sweep peak crowds down 13%

MORE than 924,000 people went to visit their deceased family members' graves yesterday as tomb-sweeping hit its peak, as expected, on the Winter Solstice Day, said the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.

The turnout was about 13 percent lower than last year, when the Winter Solstice was a Sunday.

"Considering that yesterday was a workday, the tomb-sweeping volume was impressive anyway," said an official surnamed Zheng, with the bureau's funeral-management division.

Originally, the past weekend was expected to be a heavy volume day for tomb-sweeping, but the chilly weather apparently kept many people at home. Over the weekend, around 678,000 went on a tomb-sweeping trip, said the bureau.

Although vehicle volume yesterday morning didn't show a remarkable rise, short-term traffic jams still appeared here and there, said the Shanghai Highway Administration.

From 6am to 11am, about 111,000 vehicles were on the highway, and some roads, such as the expressway from downtown to Jiading District, and a section of the Beijing-Shanghai expressway, experienced heavy traffic.

"The traffic jam, however, was not serious," said Dong Hui, an official with the administration.

Cemeteries said people are growing aware of avoiding the Winter Solstice grave-visiting peak. The Binhaiguyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District said fewer people came to the cemetery and fewer new tombs were set up than last year.

"We hope the two figures can still drop next year," said Zhao Xiaohu, general manager of the cemetery.


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