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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 April 2005, 10:50 GMT 11:50 UK
HK studies high rise mausoleum
By Chris Hogg
BBC News, Hong Kong

Chinese graves in Beijing - 5/4/05
Cremated ashes are stored in special vaults
Hong Kong is famous for the skyscrapers that dominate its skyline. Now a new type of high-rise home might be needed.

Local authorities are considering building high-rise structures to house the ashes of the dead, because they are running out of space.

Around 12,000 so-called public niches are required each year to store urns containing ashes of the deceased.

The government says the current supply will run out unless it can come up with another solution.

Around 30,000 people die here each year. Only one in 10 is buried. The rest are cremated and their remains placed in urns and stored in niches cut into the walls of vaults, known as columbaria.

The government has provided more than 300,000 niches so far but a shortage of land, a tightening of planning controls, and local objections mean it is getting harder to enlarge the existing cemeteries in the territory.

In order to ensure that people have a proper resting place when they die, officials say they are trying to find the most efficient solution.

One option being considered is high-rise columbaria. There are no details yet of how high these might be or where they will be built but time is running out.

Twelve-thousand new niches recently completed are expected to be sold to the public by the end of the year. Without a new solution, the supply will run dry by 2007.


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