Wuhan Residents: City Death Toll 40,000 Not 2,500

As authorities began to lift a two-month lockdown in the Chinese city of Wuhan, residents said they were growing skeptical that the official figure of 2,500 deaths in the city was accurate.

“It can’t be right because the incinerators have been working round the clock, so how can so few people have died?” a Wuhan resident told Radio Free Asia.

“They started distributing ashes and starting interment ceremonies on Monday” he said.

There are seven funeral homes that survey Wuhan and social media users have posted estimates that all seven are handing out 3,500 urns every day in total. Funeral homes have informed families that they will try to complete cremations before April 5, which would indicate a 12-day process beginning on March 23.

Such an estimate would mean that 42,000 urns would be given out during that time.

A source close to the provincial civil affairs bureau said many people had died at home, without being diagnosed with COVID-19. He added that the authorities do likely know the real number of deaths.

“Every funeral home reports data on cremations directly to the authorities twice daily, this means that each funeral home only knows how many cremations it has conducted, but not the situation at the other funeral homes” the source said.

Chen Yaohui, a Wuhan resident, claimed city officials have been handing out 3,000 yuan in “funeral allowances” to the families of the dead in exchange for their silence.

“There have been a lot of funerals in the past few days, and the authorities are handing out 3,000 yuan in hush money to families who get their loved ones’ remains laid to rest ahead of Qing Ming,” he said in reference to the traditional grave tending festival on April 5.

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