Four siblings, aged five to 13, who were abandoned by their parents and neglected by government workers in one of China’s poorest regions, have died.
Two village heads were fired and three other officials, including the district education chief, have been suspended from their work and are being investigated, according to the Qixingguan district government in the south-western city of Bijie.
The district government promised to take proper disciplinary action after the investigation.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also demanded that local governments be more careful in providing aid services. He asked that such tragedies not occur again.
The deaths have renewed concerns over the well-being of tens of millions of rural Chinese children who are left behind in their villages while their parents seek work in factories in far away industrial cities.
The 13-year-old boy and his three younger sisters committed suicide at home in their village of Tiankan.
State broadcaster CCTV said the boy left behind a suicide note in which he wrote, “today is the day to go”.
The children’s father left the village for work in March and their mother has been away for a while, state media reported.
The father had sent the children money, and police recovered a bank card with a balance of nearly 600 dollars, according to reports.
Yet, the children could not properly look after themselves and may have had psychological problems because of the long absence of their parents, fellow villagers told the media.