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Grieving HK families hit by coffin shortage

Coffins are not just in short supply in Hong Kong, they are going missing.

As death rates rose in the territory’s deadliest Covid-19 wave, some have found it difficult to give their loved ones a proper funeral.

The South China Morning Post reported the case of a family who had ordered a casket for a 91-year-old man who had died of heart failure.

Hours before the funeral on Sunday (March 27) they were told by the funeral agent that the casket, for which they had paid HK$3,000 (S$520), could not be found.

It had been stored in a warehouse in the Hung Hom district, and it wasn’t clear if it had been stolen.

The family managed to hold the funeral as scheduled after the coffin supplier found them a replacement in time.

The report quoted Hong Kong Funeral Business Association chairman Ng Yiu-tong as saying he had heard of coffins being stolen from warehouses.

But he said it was also possible that funeral workers had mixed up coffin orders because their workload had doubled.

Mortuaries were filling up as the Omicron variant of the coronavirus swept through the territory, claiming many elderly victims.

To make matters worse, this coincided with breakouts and lockdowns in mainland China, where hundreds of coffins come from daily.

The UK's Evening Standard had reported earlier in the month that lockdowns, especially in the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen, had affected the flow of funeral supplies to Hong Kong.

Other reports have spoken of companies offering more environmentally friendly cardboard coffins to meet the shortage.

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