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Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Wednesday, 31 March 2010 10:40 UK

Two held after dead babies dumped in China river

Bridge over Guangfu river, Shandong province, China (30 March 2010)
The bodies were found by residents on the bank of a river

Two hospital workers have been arrested in eastern China after the bodies of 21 babies and foetuses were found dumped on a river bank, state media reports.

Officials said the babies' families had paid Zhu Zhenyu and Wang Zhijun to dispose of the bodies but instead they had dumped them by the Guangfu river.

Three hospital officials have also been suspended or dismissed, reports said.

The action comes as the authorities try to contain growing public anger over the discovery in Shandong province.

Television footage showed several bodies lying on the ground by the river, covered in mud, while emergency workers searched the area.

A local resident who spotted the bodies said at first he thought they were dolls.

"Then I found it was real. When I walked further, I found more bodies," he told reporters.

Eight of the bodies were said to be wearing identification bands showing they had come from the Affiliated Hospital of Jining Medical University.

'Improper'

A Jining government spokesman said the mortuary workers, who were arrested on Tuesday, had "reached verbal agreements privately with relatives of the dead babies to dispose [of] the bodies and charged fees".

"They subsequently transported the bodies secretly to the Guangfu River, but they had failed to bury the bodies completely," the Xinhua news agency quoted Gong Zhenhua as saying.

Map

Mr Gong said a director and deputy director at the hospital had been removed from their posts while a vice-president had been suspended pending an investigation.

He said the hospital staff had "violated regulations and carried out improper treatment" of babies' bodies.

"It exposes a serious loophole in the hospital's management and indicates a lack of ethics and legal awareness of some hospital staff," he said.

Zhong Haitao, a senior official of the Jining health bureau, said the bodies could be those of aborted foetuses or of babies who died at the hospital.

Abortions are common in China, partly due to the one-child policy. Cremation can also be prohibitively expensive for poor families.

Local residents have expressed concern that drinking water supplies could have been contaminated by the dumping.

But the authorities said the river was not a source of drinking water and was not contaminated.



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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
News24.com Two held for dumping babies - 23 hrs ago
Japan Today 2 detained after 21 dead babies found along China river - 34 hrs ago
The Independent Bodies of 21 babies washed ashore in China - 34 hrs ago
South Africa MercuryTwo held for dead babies found along river - 37 hrs ago
Melbourne Age Two held as dead babies found in China - 38 hrs ago
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