Crematorium waste in quilts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am

Appalling conditions at three Wuhan cotton-processing workshops have been exposed by pictures from an independent photographer showing workers transforming fabric discarded by a nearby crematorium into stuffing for pillows and quilts.

Wang Haofeng posted the disturbing pictures on his blog on Tuesday, after a visit to a rundown processing room churning out unsterilised cotton products in Wuhan's backstreets. He has since been threatened in anonymous hate mail and asked by the city to take the pictures off his blog.

He said dozens of workers toiled round the clock in oppressively hot and unsanitary conditions.

Mr Wang said the factory was shut down in 2001 for employing child labourers but resumed operation soon afterwards and he had also discovered similar conditions at two other cotton-processing factories in the city. The posting sparked outrage online over both the substandard labour conditions and the potentially hazardous contents of the pillows and quilts. It also prompted the authorities to embark on a city-wide inspection of manufacturers.

But Mr Wang, in Beijing for a television interview yesterday, said he was already feeling the heat for his photographs, with hate mail flooding his e-mail inbox and Wuhan government protesting over the revelations.

A Wuhan government spokesman said that the scandal had been 'overstated' and 'no crematorium cast-offs' had been found.

An editor at the website hosting Wang's blog confirmed they had received requests from the Wuhan government to withdraw the images.