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May 11, 2011

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Diamond geezers find lost jewels at dump

SIX sanitary workers sifted through mountains of rubbish in the afternoon heat to reunite a Songjiang District resident with diamonds worth nearly 130,000 yuan (US$20,000).

The jewels had been stored inside a herbal tea box inside a refrigerator, and were thrown away by mistake with household garbage on Monday.

The owner, surnamed Li, bought the diamonds on Sunday. She put them in three glass jars which she placed in a herbal tea box inside her refrigerator, before going out on Monday.

However, Li's mother, who did not know about the diamonds, noticed that the tea was past its sell-by date and asked their domestic helper to throw it out with garbage.

When Li returned home and went to the fridge for a drink, she was stunned to see the tea box was missing.

Discovering that the box had been thrown out, and the rubbish had been taken to a dump near her residential community, she contacted the community sanitation company.

Chen Yingchu, an official with the company, said the family reported the missing diamonds at about 4:40pm. "All the workers were off duty by then," he said.

Chen called back four workers who had made a collection from Li's residential complex and two other colleagues.

Zhu Yangqing, aged 58, who collected the garbage from Li's neighborhood at the rubbish station, immediately rushed to the site to help after receiving the call, said Chen.

"Zhu said he could remember exactly where the garbage containing Li's lost diamonds was deposited, so he was a great help," the official said.

The workers searched using their bare hands as there was no time to find suitable tools.

"They feared the longer it took, the greater the chance the valuables could be found by others," the official said.

Following two hours of sorting through a 5-ton garbage mountain, the team discovered the box and its glittering contents.

At around 6:30pm, team member Wang Mingjun shouted to Li's mother, who was waiting anxiously at the scene, and asked her to have a look at a box he had found.

Worry turned to relief and joy when she saw it was the box that had been thrown away, and the diamonds were safe inside.

Li's family paid the workers 100 yuan each as a reward for finding the jewels.

The sanitation company said another family from the same complex wasn't so lucky. They reported throwing away 117,000 yuan earlier this year, but workers failed to find the cash.


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