01/07/2009, 00.00
CHINA
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Another child dies from melamine-contaminated milk

The official number of victims rises to 7, but there are suspicions about the health authorities, who are refusing to conduct autopsies on the dead children. Families are being prevented from speaking with the press.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - A one-year-old boy with kidney disease because of the powdered milk that he drank from birth died yesterday in Qingzhou (Shandong). His death brings to 7 the official number of victims in the melamine milk contamination scandal, but is triggering doubts about the actual number. Melamine-contaminated milk has led to kidney disease or urinary tract problems for more than 300,000 children.

Hou Rongbo says that his son, Hu Haiqi, was diagnosed with kidney stones last September. He died from respiratory complications. Since he had also been diagnosed with leukemia, the father wants the hospital to conduct an autopsy to verify the cause of death. But the public health officials are refusing to give permission.

The government and authorities all over China have so far tried to minimize the deaths from tainted milk, and the courts are not accepting the lawsuits brought by parents of sick children against the companies implicated in the scandal.

Zhao Lianhai, an activist from Beijing who helps the families of sick children to seek justice, tells the South China Morning Post that he is aware of other cases of children who were fed the tainted milk, got kidney stones and died, for whom the health authorities are refusing autopsies.

Last week, the police jailed 10 parents before they were able to participate in a press conference to denounce the lack of help from the government. Beijing had promised free medical care for the sick, up to the age of 18 years, and compensation for the sick.

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