The children came from a township near Bijie in Guizhou province. Photo: SCMP Pictures

Four abandoned children 'who survived on corn' found poisoned in China

Youngsters discovered at their home, thought to have been killed by swallowing pesticide

Angela Meng

Four abandoned children from one family in southwest China have died from suspected pesticide poisoning.

The three girls and one boy, aged between five and 13, were found dead at their home in a township near Bijie in Guizhou province, the state-run news agency Xinhua reported.

Villagers said they were the children of migrant workers, who had left the area, and no adults were looking after them.

Police are investigating after the children’s bodies were found on Tuesday night.

Their paternal grandparents are dead and their maternal grandparents are too old and infirm to take care of them.

Another villager, Zhang Shigui, who is a relative of the children, was quoted as saying that they had all dropped out of school because they could not afford the fees.

They had survived by eating corn harvested last year, the report said.

Zhang said the children’s father had left a telephone number, but he could not be contacted.

This is not the first tragedy of its kind in Bijie.

Five boys living on the streets were found dead in a large rubbish container where they were suspected to have died from carbon monoxide poisoning while sheltering from the cold in 2012.

The boys were seen wandering around the neighbourhood and sleeping in abandoned buildings a week before they were found dead.

The media in China regularly reports on the difficulties faced by some of the offspring of migrant workers, known as "left behind children", in poorer rural areas of the country.

The All-China Women's Federation said four years ago there may be more than 60 million of the children, some living in dire poverty.