With scores of sick farmers and 20 already dead, a village some 300 kilometers northeast of this city has become known as the "cancer village" of Jiangsu Province.
Authorities suspect serious pollution is behind the high concentration of cases of cancer.
A major investigation was started after the media put the spotlight on the Funing County village called Yangqiao.
Several departments, including the Funing County environmental bureau, are currently investigating.
A strange smell emanates from three factories in the village, one agricultural pesticide factory and two chemical plants, which produce waste water day and night.
Many residents believe chemicals from the factories are behind the cancer in the village.
A county government official surnamed Zhou said recently scientists and experts will be invited to make a thorough investigation of the village.
An official from the county's environmental bureau surnamed Yang said the government and the bureau would work together.
Zhou and Yang said it would take time to check for a connection between the high rate of cancer and chemical pollution there.
To date, however, local health department has not been officially informed of the situation.
According to the Nanjing-based Jiangnan Times, an affiliate of Beijing-based People's Daily, more than 80 percent of the villagers say they can smell an awful odor in the village, which makes them feel very uncomfortable, and leads to breathing problems and dizziness. Old people and children are often felled by coughs and constricted chests.
A river that runs through the village and wells are also seriously polluted by the waste of the chemical plants.
Even the tap water smells of agricultural chemicals.
Residents say many of their dogs and cats died after drinking the water or eating the fish from the river.
(China Daily May 10, 2004)