Hospital in China attacked by mob after death of local official's wife

Hundreds of people attacked a hospital in southern China after the wife of the local taxation bureau chief died there following surgery, sparking an online debate about abuse of authority.

The incident in the city of Leiyang began on Saturday after the woman, identified as Xie Aiyun, died from multiple organ failure four days after undergoing liposuction surgery, according to reports on Web sites, including the Leiyang Neighborhood Forum.

Friends and relatives began gathering at the city's Chinese Medicine Hospital that afternoon, blaming staff for Xie's death and demanding more than 1 million yuan (US$128,000; EUR 98,800) in compensation, said the reports. Over the following days, the crowd smashed the hospital's doors and windows, drove patients and staff out, and beat at least one person who showed up seeking treatment, the reports said.

An officer who answered the phone Wednesday at Leiyang police headquarters refused to answer questions about the case. A person reached at the hospital's main number said only that it was under investigation. It wasn't clear whether the violence had ended, reports AP.

Violence and threats against medical staff have grown increasingly common among frustrations over low-quality, high-cost health care in many parts of China. According to the Boxun news Web site, the Hanmei clinic where Xie underwent her surgery was simply renting space from the hospital and its main doctor had no training in plastic surgery.

Comments on the Leiyang forum also expressed anger that authorities did nothing to prevent Xie's family from attacking the hospital, allegedly because her husband was a powerful local official.

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