BEIJING — 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.