10 people taken to Beijing hospital after apparent mass suicide bid

Group dressed in T-shirts with characters for 'Harbin Railway Bureau' found on Beijing street

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 August, 2013, 12:21pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 August, 2013, 3:21am

A group of at least 10 people drank pesticide on a street in Beijing in what appeared to be a suicide pact on Tuesday morning, but it was unclear whether anyone died, local media reported.

The incident occurred near the Beijing West Railway Station - a major transport hub in the capital - and some of the participants wore white T-shirts with red Chinese characters that said "Harbin Railway Bureau", the Beijing Youth Daily reported.

A witness was quoted as saying people were spotted lying in the street, surrounded by vomit and tissues. "They didn't speak and it seemed like they might have been unconscious," the passer-by told the newspaper.

The Beijing News reported online the group had been petitioning the China Railway Corporation prior to drinking the pesticide, but it was unclear what their concerns were. The report was later removed from the site.

Police cars and ambulances soon arrived at the scene, and the 10 were taken to two nearby hospitals, according to the Youth Daily. Their conditions were not known, and a staff member at Fuxing Hospital said only some patients had been admitted after taking pesticide.

Photos posted online on Tuesday showed police officers guarding a triage room at Fuxing Hospital, and several people wearing the same white T-shirts were photographed sitting or lying on beds in a hospital corridor.

A representative for the Harbin Railway Bureau in Heilongjiang province said he was unaware of the incident. Beijing's Public Security Bureau did not respond to an interview request.

The incident occurred close to the headquarters of China Railway. The building formerly housed the Ministry of Railways, a once super ministry that oversaw the mainland's railway network, and its more than two million employees.

In March, the Ministry of Railways was dismantled and its duties were absorbed by the Ministry of Transport, State Railways Administration and China Railway. The restructuring led to fears over job cuts, but former railways minister Sheng Guangzu , who is now the general manager of China Railway, said in March there would be no layoffs.