BEIJING — The pig carcasses — about 14,000 of them — have been floating down rivers that feed into Shanghai for nearly two weeks. The city's residents have been told not to worry, and not much else.
Where the pigs came from, how they died and why they suddenly showed up in the river system that supplies drinking water to a city of 23 million has not been explained. Officials have told residents their drinking water is safe, while authorities have censored microblog posts suggesting that the public organize peaceful protests.
The official response reminds many of the government silence that surrounded previous health concerns, from the SARS epidemic to bird flu to contaminated milk.
"They are only giving the runaround," said Huang Beibei, a Shanghai microblogger whose revolting photographs of the pigs first prompted local media coverage and government attention. "'Who believes what they are saying?"
"Those pigs must have come from somewhere," author Li Mingsheng said. "That's a basic question, but the government still has not told us that."
Authorities have retrieved at least 13,996 dead pigs as of Wednesday, and have released daily bulletins saying drinking water in Shanghai remains within national standards.