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BEIJING - China's Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) said on Monday that over 5.4 million people had visited 150 major memorial sites or cemeteries to mourn the deceased on the first day of the tomb-sweeping festival.
The number was 25 percent higher than that of the same period last year, said a statement from the MCA late Monday.
Qingming Festival, or Tomb-sweeping Day, falls on Wednesday, but the public holiday was set to last from Monday to Wednesday.
Those 150 monitored memorial sites received more than 14.75 million people during the three-day holiday last year, while during the same period, the total population participated in mourning activities was estimated at about 460 million.
In an earlier statement, the MCA had called on local authorities to stepped up security measures to ensure safety, with emphasis on fire prevention and easing traffic congestion.
A notable tradition of the Qingming Festival was setting symbolic objects alight to pay respects to one's ancestors and departed family members, which often poses threats to public security.
The MCA statement urged local governments to promptly release information on peak of tomb-sweeping waves or to organize public memorial activities if necessary.