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Gravel factory link to fatal disease

FIFTY migrant workers from a town in southwest China's Yunnan Province are suffering from a mysterious lung disease after working at a gravel factory in east China's Jiangsu Province, Chuncheng Evening Post reported today.

Twelve have died in the past two years.

The villagers of Yunnan's Shuifu County had worked at a gravel factory in Fengyang County of Jiangsu's Chuzhou from 2004, the report said. By 2007, the number of villagers there had reached 300 working at crushing gravel.

But since 2006, several villagers reported chest pains, coughs and other respiratory system problems.

The villagers did not realize the lung disease was a type of occupational disease called pneumoconiosis until one of the victims Jing Facai went to Beijing for treatment. Pneumoconiosis is caused by inhaling dust.

The local medical authority detected the disease in 2005 and realized its severity in 2007 when the first death occurred, according to Chao Zengming, clinic director of Yong'an Village, Fushui County.

He said he had reported the situation to health authorities so that effective measures could be taken.

Local health authorities said they are ready to provide help for the workers but will do that after medical health experts confirm it is the disease.

Wang Changguo, one of the villagers said he has lost 30 kilograms and is unable to work. He returned to his hometown after two weeks' work at the factory as the environment there was intolerable. He said he has no money to treat the disease. He just has to wait for his death.


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