Chinese authorities reopen probe into melamine death

October 8th, 2008 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Urumqi (China), Oct 8 (Xinhua) Health authorities in northwest China have reopened the investigation into the first of the four infant deaths suspected to be related to the consumption of milk products tainted with industrial chemical melamine. The health department of Xinjiang region reported the death, which was attributed to kidney stones, on Sep 18. Since then the toll in the contaminated milk related diseases has risen to four.

The infant died at a hospital in Bayingolin prefecture of Mongolia, the regional health department said on its website but gave no details. The information was deleted from the website the next day.

“The baby died from complications related to kidney stones in March. At first we thought it was caused by the baby formula contaminated with the chemical melamine, but now we need to check whether the death was directly linked to the tainted milk,” said Li Huaihai, health department spokesman.

“Medical experts are reinvestigating the case, but it needs time to get the final result as the baby had been buried,” he said, without saying how the examination would be conducted or when it would be completed.

Three babies, two in the Gansu province in the northwest and one in Zhejiang province in the east, died after consuming tainted milk powder from May to August, according to the ministry of health. No deaths were reported in September.

The contaminated baby formula left more than 53,000 babies with urinary tract problems, including kidney stones, according to the ministry.

Some 12,892 infants were hospitalized, the ministry said Sep 21. It has not updated the figures since then.

The director of the ministry’s information office, who declined to be named, said Wednesday that the ministry would release updated figures “at a suitable time”.

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