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More than 130 dead pigs dumped in southern Chinese river

BEIJING (Reuters) - The decaying bodies of at least 131 dead pigs were found in a major river in China's eastern province of Jiangxi, the official Xinhua news agency said on Wednesday.

China's new leadership has identified pollution, long a source of public discontent, as one of its top challenges, and vowed to more strictly police firms that get free rein to pollute from local governments eager to maintain jobs and revenue.

Last March, thousands of dead pigs dumped into a river that provides water to Shanghai sparked widespread outrage about environmental degradation, which has been the price of China's rapid economic growth.

The water authority in the provincial capital of Nanchang said it found the dead pigs on Saturday in the Ganjiang River, which is a major tributary of the Yangtze.

It was unclear where exactly the carcasses came from or why they had been dumped.

Xinhua did not say what steps authorities were taking to find out why the animals were thrown into the river, but the pigs are believed to originate from the river's upper reaches.

Pork is China's staple meat, and the country is home to the world's largest population of swine.

In last year's incident, authorities said traces of a common virus were found in some of the animals, indicating that farmers might have dumped them.

Premier Li Keqiang "declared war" on pollution at this month's annual parliamentary session, part of a push to wean the world's second biggest economy from credit-fuelled growth to more sustainable development.

(Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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