World

Director of care centre arrested after winter deaths expose

BEIJING: A care centre director in southern China, where 21 people including a 15-year-old autistic boy died over the winter, is in police custody, local media reported.

An expose this week by the state-run Beijing News found that at least 21 people at the centre for the homeless, elderly and mentally ill had died recently.

A local government investigation found conditions at the Lianxi care agency in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, did not meet national safety standards, the Yangcheng Evening News said yesterday.

The report did not mention the name of the director, and said an investor, a legal representative and two care centre staff members had also been detained.

Accounts of crowded, unsanitary conditions at the facility have triggered widespread outrage in the country, with people pouring scorn on the government's treatment of vulnerable populations.

The centre was privately run, but financed by the local government, according to China Daily.

Lei Wenfeng, the autistic teen, had wandered away from home and got lost. He died in December after staying at the centre for a month.

The cause of his death has not been disclosed. - AFP

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