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Mar 30, 2010 1:44 PM by Letitia Walker

21 Babies Wash Ashore in Eastern China

BEIJING (AP) - The bodies of 21 babies washed ashore on a

riverbank in eastern China and two hospital mortuary workers were

detained for allegedly dumping them, state media reported Tuesday.

Video footage showed the bodies - at least one of which stuffed

in a yellow plastic bag marked "medical waste" - included some

infants who appeared several months old. Some wore identification

tags with their mothers' names, birth dates, measurements and

weights.

The official Xinhua News Agency said there were also fetuses

among the bodies. The number of girls or boys was not reported.

Residents discovered the remains under a bridge in the city of

Jining, Shandong province, over the weekend. The tags on the ankles

of eight of the babies helped investigators trace them back to

Affiliated Hospital of Jining Medical University, Xinhua said.

An official from the hospital confirmed it was involved.

Hospital mortuary workers Zhu Zhenyu and Wang Zhijun were sacked

and detained by police, Xinhua reported early Wednesday, citing

Jining city government spokesman Gong Zhenhua.

The babies' families had paid the pair to dispose of the bodies,

but instead they dumped them at the Guangfu River, Gong said.

Three other top hospital officials were fired or suspended,

Xinhua said.

Gong said the 21 bodies had been cremated, though it was not

clear whether authorities were able to identify all of them.

Interviews with residents who discovered the bodies floating

near the shore were broadcast on the Shandong Broadcasting Company

Web site.

Footage shows bodies lying on parts of the riverbank. Some are

uncovered, and others are in bags. They are all small and covered

in dirt. A leg sticks out from under one bag, and at least one has

"medical waste" written on it.

One of the bluish-green identification tags visible in the video

indicates the baby was born in April 2009.

An official from the information office of China's Health

Ministry said she was not aware of the case, while telephone calls

to the Jining Health Bureau and the Shandong Health Bureau rang

unanswered Tuesday.

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