China police probe death of girls in washing machine

An investigation into the mysterious death of two young sisters has been launched in eastern China after a family member claimed they died in a washing machine, police said Tuesday.

Police in Jiangxi province said they received a call on Sunday enquiring about possible compensation payments for the family of two sisters aged two and three who died after climbing into a washing machine the day before.

The caller said the sisters had already been buried, police in the provincial capital Nanchang said on their verified account on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

Earlier reports said police had ruled out murder in the case, but the statement made no mention of detectives excluding the possibility of foul play.

Previous reports also said the sisters were aged two and four.

"Currently all kinds of investigations are being carried out," the police posting said, without giving details.

Police were unavailable for comment to AFP.

The children's grandfather was quoted in local media reports as describing how the father discovered the girl's bodies.

"The father found the girls curled up in the closed washing machine with a lot of blood when he saw the light on the washing machine was flickering," he was quoted by a Jiangxi-based online news portal as saying, according to the Global Times newspaper.

A witness quoted by the portal who was said to have helped take the children to hospital described a heartbreaking scene.

"The girls were swollen and had bruises all over the body," the witness said. "There was a lot of blood in the washing machine."

The children's mother fainted when she heard about the deaths, the witness added.

Online video reports showed an upright washing machine with a small chair next to it in the kitchen of the girls' home.

Many people on China's hugely popular microblogging websites raised suspicions about the deaths.

China's Haier Group, the machine's manufacturer, said that the machine would not operate under the conditions that were described, the state-run newspaper reported.

Haier had sent staff to help with the probe, the Global Times added.