10/09/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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More than 10,000 Chinese children still in the hospital because of contaminated milk

The government is refusing to give the total number of sick children, which is estimated at around 94,000. Families are trying to bring charges against the milk companies, but the judges are stalling.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - At least 10,700 children and infants are still in the hospital for drinking milk containing melamine. The number comes from the health ministry, which is refusing to give the overall numbers of the phenomenon. According to the news agency Reuters, which has consulted local newspapers, at least 94,000 children have been sickened by contamination of powdered milk.

The health ministry has stated that no children have died after the four in the early days of the scandal, in mid-September. But four deaths have been recorded in Xinjiang, among infants who were fed the contaminated powdered milk. At least eight children are hospitalized in extremely serious condition. At least 36,000 children have already left the hospital after receiving care, but there are also new arrivals.

Many parents want to bring charges against the companies that produce the powdered milk, especially Sanlu, but the judges are refusing to hear the charges, preferring to consider them only "petitions." This is what happened to the family of Zhang Zhouyu, a one-year-old who came down with a fever and urinary tract problems after being fed milk from Sanlu. The boy was operated on twice to remove kidney stones. The family has gone to court in Guangdong to file charges against Sanlu, but the judges made them go through the office of petitions, and are reserving to themselves the right to study the case before proceeding. Another charge in Henan has met with the same fate.

Meanwhile, in Singapore and the Philippines, more "made in China" milk chocolate bars and candies have been banned from the market.

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