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Locals prepare for winter solstice

    More than 210,000 residents visited 54 cemeteries and columbariums across the city yesterday to pay their respects to departed family members ahead of this year’s winter solstice on December 22.

    The winter solstice, like the Qingming Festival, is a key time for paying respects, but there were 42 percent fewer tomb sweepers yesterday compared to last year and a 36 percent drop in the number of additional vehicles on roads leading to cemeteries.

    Songhe Cemetery in Jiading District, Baoluo Mingyuan Cemetery in Baoshan District and Binhai Guyuan Cemetery in Fengxian District received the largest numbers of tomb sweepers.

    This year’s lower number is partly attributed to continuous appeals from authorities and cemeteries in recent years for residents to visit tombs at non-peak times, officials with the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau said.

    More than 150 shuttle buses ran 583 trips throughout the day yesterday, taking 19,000 people between Metro stations and 19 cemeteries.

    Authorities stepped up efforts to prevent fire accidents as a result of the illegal setting off of firecrackers.

    A helicopter was used to monitor traffic and order at cemeteries and nearby areas and fire engines were positioned at cemeteries in advance in case of fire.

    On December 22 itself, it is estimated that some 1.02 million people will be traveling to cemeteries, with an additional 120,000 vehicles on the road. Because it is a working day, the bureau is warning residents of worse-than-normal traffic congestion on the streets.