China said Sunday the number of children sickened by baby formula tainted with the banned industrial chemical melamine has doubled to nearly 12,900 as the government confronts a scandal over widespread contamination of the milk supply.
More than 80 percent of the 12,892 children hospitalized in recent weeks were 2 years old or younger, the Health Ministry said in a statement posted on its Web site late Sunday. Four children have died.
The ministry said most of the children sickened consumed infant formula from one company, the Shijiazhuang Sanlu Group Co. The dairy is at the center of one of China’s worst food safety scandals in years.
Over the weekend, the Chinese territory of Hong Kong reported the first known illness outside mainland China – a 3-year-old girl who developed kidney stones after drinking Chinese dairy products. She was discharged from the hospital, the Hong Kong government said.
In the two weeks since the government first acknowledged the contamination, it has issued recalls for dairy products from 22 companies after tests turned up traces of melamine.
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa
Mbeki announces formal resignation
South African President Thabo Mbeki announced Sunday that he had formally resigned and would vacate the office he has held for nine years as soon as the nation’s Parliament selects a successor.
In a sober, unemotional address broadcast on state television, Mbeki thanked South Africans and the ruling African National Congress, which on Saturday voted to seek his ouster.
“I have been a loyal member of the African National Congress for 52 years,” Mbeki said. “I remain a member of the ANC and therefore respect its decisions.”
Mbeki, a top government leader since the end of apartheid in 1994, had faced increasing pressure to resign after a judge’s ruling suggested his administration had schemed to charge his rival, Jacob Zuma, with corruption. Mbeki was due to step down after next year’s national elections, and Zuma is expected to win his job.
U.S. man captured, government says
The Honduran government says a U.S. hotelier was kidnapped by gunmen.
Security Vice Minister Mario Perdomo says Thomas Jacobson was abducted Saturday and forced into a car in the parking lot of his Gran Hotel Sula on the Atlantic coast.
Four gunmen accosted the 55-year-old while he was getting into his car.
Perdomo said Sunday that Jacobson’s family asked police not to intervene for fear of endangering him. But Perdomo said the government was obligated to investigate.
Jacobson has lived in Honduras for 15 years. The government did not give his hometown in the U.S.