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Babies’ bodies wash up on China beach

Two senior hospital staff have been sacked and two mortuary workers are being held in connection with the find after 21 babies and foetuses were found washed up on a Chinese beach. Tags bearing the name of the hospital of Jining Medical University in Shandong province were attached to eight of the bodies, the country’s state news agency Xinhua reported today.

Beijing News quoted officials who said that one of the bodies had been bundled into a plastic bag marked 'hospital waste’. It said cleaners from local hospitals may have dumped the bodies after abortions and induced labour because such dead bodies are treated as "medical waste" by hospitals. They were found on the outskirts of the city of Jining. The two mortuary workers who had been paid to dispose of the bodies were named as Zhu Zhenyu and Wang Zhijun. “Investigations show that Zhu and Wang had reached verbal agreements privately with relatives of the dead babies to dispose the bodies and charged fees,” city government spokesman, Gong Zhenhua, said. “They subsequently transported the bodies secretly to the Guangfu River, but they had failed to bury the bodies completely,” he was quoted as saying.

The two senior hospital officials, Li Luning and He Xin, director and deputy director of the hospital’s logistics department, were sacked and a vice president of the hospital, Niu Haifeng, was suspended. The find brought to light “a serious loophole in the hospital’s management and indicates a lack of ethics and legal awareness of some hospital staff,” Gong said. “It exerts a very negative impact on society and teaches us a profound lesson.” The city government called for an overhaul of how all health authority hospitals handle bodies immediately. The city’s environmental department said the most recent tests on the river's water quality showed it was not contaminated with major water indicators and that the river is not one of the city's drinking water sources.

In China, at least 13 million babies are aborted every year, partly because of the nation’s so-called “one-child policy,” which limits most urban couples to just one child. The country’s family-planning rules are widely blamed for fuelling abortions of female foetuses in China, where boys are traditionally favoured. Last June, a hospital in central China’s Hubei province was found to have dumped the bodies of two adults and six aborted foetuses at a building site after it couldn’t find the relatives, state media reported.

 By Hayley Jarvis for SOS Children