| A food poisoning victim receives emergency treatment in an ambulance in Nanjing, China. (Reuters)
Beijing, Sept. 14 (Reuters): A food poisoning outbreak at a fast food restaurant killed 41 people and left hundreds needing hospital treatment today in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing, state media said.
The official Xinhua news agency said the 41 had died after eating traditional breakfast snacks including sesame cakes and fried dough sticks at a branch of the Heshengyuan Soy Milk chain.
Doctors quoted by the agency said the death toll was expected to rise. The website later reverted to an earlier version of the story, saying only that “a number of victims” had died and more than 200 were poisoned.
There was no explanation for the change, but China’s state- controlled media frequently come under sharp controls on coverage of disasters and other stories deemed sensitive by the government.
More than 400 people, many construction workers and middle school students, were rushed to hospitals after eating at the restaurant in the city’s Jiangning district, Xinhua said.
Doctors frantically transferred the ill from ambulances onto stretchers while others ran with boxes of medicine to hospital, Xinhua pictures showed.
One local journalist who witnessed the medical effort said scores were already dead.
The restaurant has been shut down, Xinhua said on the site, xinhuanet.com.
Ten hospitals around Nanjing were treating the victims, said the website of the Communist Party-run People's Daily.
A nurse at Gulou Hospital, one of the city's largest medical centres, said it had treated a large number of food poisoning victims during the day.
“But by the time we got on duty, they had all been discharged,” she said.
The food poisoning outbreak appeared to be the biggest in recent memory in China.