At least 41 people, mostly schoolchildren, died of food poisoning in Nanjing yesterday after eating tainted products from a popular soy milk shop. More than 400 people became ill in the outbreak, Xinhua said. The victims were mainly students from the Zuoguang Secondary School, plus dozens of workers from a nearby construction site. Witnesses told Cable TV that some of the victims died on the spot, bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth. The death toll was expected to rise, Xinhua said. The victims bought fried dough sticks, sesame cakes and soy bean milk from the Heshengyuan Soy Milk chain in Nanjing's Jiangning district. A resident who lives near Zuoguang Secondary School said most of the dead were schoolchildren who bought their breakfast from the shop, which has been shut down. A hospital worker contacted by the Sunday Morning Post at 5pm said at least 28 people had died, but Xinhua reported at about 9pm that the death toll was 41. It later changed its report to merely say 'a lot' had died. Residents said hundreds of paramilitary police and soldiers had cordoned off the school. The victims were sent to more than 10 hospitals and more than 500 medical staff were involved in their treatment, Xinhua said. Local media reported that the emergency room of Nanjing's No. 1 People's Hospital was inundated with victims. A spokeswoman from the hospital said some of the sick were in serious condition. A journalist from one of Nanjing's major newspapers said rat poison was believed to have been involved, and police were still investigating whether it was a criminal act. The central committee of the Communist Party and the State Council have ordered an investigation into the case, saying it threatened social stability. The Public Security Ministry and the Health Ministry had sent a taskforce to the area to identify who was to blame, Xinhua said. In April, 241 pupils from a primary school in Urumqi, Xinjiang province, suffered food poisoning after eating yoghurt supplied by the school.