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Burials at Sea Rise as China’s Land Graves Run Dry

Some Chinese cities have begun offering cash incentives to encourage people to opt for sea burials, due to a shortage of space and a rapidly aging population.

Lin Hui Zhen, 76, weeps as she clutches the small bag carrying the ashes of her late husband Fu Yao Ming, 80, before placing them in a metal chute during a sea burial organized by the Funeral and Internment Administration of Shanghai on March 23, 2014 on a ferry in the East China Sea off Shanghai, China.

The city has carried out thousands of sea burials over the years, and although a departure from local custom the practice is slowly gaining popularity as a real alternative to the traditional ways.

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A Chinese woman is helped after placing the ashes of a relative into the sea during a burial on March 22.

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A funeral worker leads a ceremony to honor the dead at a sea burial on a ferry on March 22.

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Funeral workers push a cart carrying bags with the ashes of the deceased before handing them over to relatives prior to a sea burial on March 22.

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images AsiaPac

Relatives pause as they place the ashes of a loved one into the East China Sea on March 22.

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Zhou Ming Fa, 72, fights back tears as he waits to deposit the ashes of his late wife Bai Ping Lan, 69, into the sea on March 22.

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Relatives place flower petals in a bag carrying the ashes of a relative during a sea burial on a ferry on March 22.

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Chinese funeral workers from the Funeral and Internment Administration of Shanghai stand as relatives board a ferry that would take them for a sea burial ceremony on March 22.

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Fang Fang sits with flowers and the ashes of her father during a sea burial on a ferry on March 22.

Kevin Frayer / Getty Images AsiaPac