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Mustard Gas Leak Victim Dies in Qiqihar, North China

Li Guizhen, who suffered the most seriously from leakage of chemical weapons left in China by Japanese intruders during World War II (WWII) occurring early this month, has died.

Sources from the No. 203 Hospital of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) noted that Li, a transient from central China's Henan province, passed away at 8:55 pm Thursday. He succumbed to death as a result of a failure of multiple organs despite all-out efforts made to rescue his life.

Li had made a living by collecting and selling discarded materials in the city of Qiqihar. In the morning of August 4, he spent 200 yuan (US$24.1) buying five toxic gas cylinders at Beijiang (Northern Frontier) Residential Quarters of the Minhang Road and carted them to a discarded materials collection center in the vicinity.

At the center, Li removed lead and copper fastenings at these cylinders' both ends. During the removal, dark oil-like substances from two of the cylinders gushed out and spilled all over his body, which were later confirmed to be highly toxic mustard gas.

Upon his hospitalization in the late evening of August 4, Li was diagnosed to have 95 percent burns on his skin, the eyes and the respiratory system and a loss of homatosis, said the hospital sources.

Medical personnel in the hospital have exerted their utmost to rescue him, using the best medicine available, but failed to respond because of the severe harms done to him by the deadly gas.

(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2003)

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs
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