A 27-year-old Chinese salesman has admitted poisoning a reservoir in the central Chinese province of Henan, causing 64 people to fall sick, RFA's Chinese services report.

An official in Ruyang County, where the incident occurred, told RFA's Cantonese service that the victims were recovering from diarrhea and vomiting. "The case is solved," said the official, who asked not to be named. "One person was arrested."

Cao Qianjin was detained on Sunday for putting pesticides in the reservoir in Ruyang County. Cao�who sold water purifiers for a living�hoped that the poisoned water would boost his sales, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

"His business would improve if the water supply was polluted, he believed," Xinhua said. On Sept. 30, Cao bought 20 bottles of a pesticide known as 3911 and threw half a liter of the substance into the reservoir, which supplies 9,000 families in the county.

While none of the victims died, 42 were sent to hospital after drinking the poisoned water. On Saturday, the last six victims were released from hospital and the water facility was reopened.

"They all went home. Their situation are not serious, just diarrhea and vomiting," the county official said.

Xinhua quoted a local health official as saying the small amount of pesticide diluted in 1,000 cubic meters of water would do no great harm to humans, but it made the water smell terrible.

Henan provincial officials declined to comment on the case.

Yu Haocheng, a U.S.-based expert on Chinese law, called for a tough sentence. "China has such laws, and there have been many other cases like this before," he told RFA�s Mandarin service.

Yu Maochun, a U.S.-based commentator on Chinese current affairs, described the case as "vicious"�and symptomatic of broader problems in the new capitalist China. "It shows that in the commercialized China, people are capable of doing anything to make money. This is a serious criminal act and should be seriously punished. It�s about public health and business ethics," Yu said.

Yu also noted that poisonous chemicals are easily obtainable in China and frequently used in cases of suicide. "China should strictly regulate the use of pesticides and other dangerous poisons," he said.

Mass poisonings are not unheard of in China. In 2002, a man killed at least 42 people, many of them children, by slipping rat poison into food at a rival's shop in the city of Nanjing.

Last month, dozens of elementary school students and teachers in central China were hospitalized after ingesting rat poison with their school breakfasts. Authorities said the poisoning appeared to be deliberate, but no arrests have been announced.


Add your comment by filling out the form below in plain text. Comments are approved by a moderator and can be edited in accordance with RFAs Terms of Use. Comments will not appear in real time. RFA is not responsible for the content of the postings. Please, be respectful of others' point of view and stick to the facts.