China: Death, Sickness from Poisoned Milk Double What First Reported

China’s Health Ministry said six babies may have died after consuming tainted milk powder, up from a previous official toll of three, and announced a six-fold increase in its tally of infants sickened in the scandal to nearly 300,000.

It was the first time since Sept. 21 that health authorities have revised the total number of babies sickened by milk powder adulterated with the industrial chemical melamine. The previous total was about 50,000.

The crisis has been met with public dismay and anger, particularly among parents who feel the government breached their trust after their children were sickened or died from drinking infant formula authorities had certified as safe.

The latest statistics show that China’s communist leaders are slowly acknowledging the breadth of China’s worst food safety scare in years. During such crises, the government often deliberately releases information piecemeal in part to keep from feeding public anger.

The ministry said in a statement late Monday that 294,000 babies across the country had suffered from urinary problems after consuming milk powder laced with melamine.

“Most of the sickened children received outpatient treatment only for small amounts of sand-like kidney stones found in their urinary systems, while some patients had to be hospitalized for the illness,” the statement said.

Thousands of parents have been clamoring for compensation for their sickened and dead children. The release of the figures raises the question of whether the Health Ministry is getting closer to finalizing a compensation scheme.

In this Oct. 19, 2008 file photo, Li Xiaoquan, right, holds ...
In this Oct. 19, 2008 file photo, Li Xiaoquan, right, holds up a photo of his twin daughters Li Xiaokai and Li Xiaoyan near his wife Li Aiqing and Li Xiaoyan at their home in Liti village, near Runan, central China’s Henan province. Nine month old Li Xiaokai who has been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure. China’s Health Ministry said six babies may have died after consuming tainted milk powder, up from a previous official toll of three, and announced a six-fold increase in its tally of infants sickened in the scandal to nearly 300,000.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File)

Read the rest from the Associated Press:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081202/ap_on_bi_ge/
as_china_tainted_milk_4

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