Photographs published in several newspapers showing bodies with the limbs exposed stacked on top of each other at a government mortuary had been altered, the health minister claimed yesterday. But Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Yat-ngok admitted bodies were sometimes stored on the floors of refrigeration rooms due to space limitations. The newspapers reported that bodies had been stored on top of each other in refrigeration rooms at government mortuaries, with staff stepping on exposed limbs. They also ran photos of the bodies that were sent to them from an anonymous source who claimed to be a former mortuary worker. After a tour yesterday of the Victoria Public Mortuary, Kennedy Town, Dr Chow said government-run mortuaries were complying with the required body-handling procedures. There are two other government mortuaries in Sha Tin and Hunghom. 'Sometimes, when the number of bodies is more than the amount of storage space available, some of the bodies have to be put on the ground, but they are not placed in a way that leaves the limbs exposed,' he said. 'Those photos published in today's papers are not absolutely authentic and I suspect the photos are images that have undergone special treatment.' Dr Chow said his experience as the chief executive of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where the body-handling process was revised after the Sars outbreak, and talks with the Department of Health led him to question the authenticity of the photos. Dr Chow insisted placing bodies on the floors of refrigerations rooms was an 'acceptable' temporary measure until a new government mortuary opens later this year. Two newspapers that ran the photographs - Apple Daily and Ming Pao - denied doctoring the images.