The corpses of 21 infants were discovered in a river in eastern China amid suspicions a nearby hospital may have discarded them as trash, state media reported Tuesday.
The ages of the bodies found in Shandong province could not be determined but their sizes suggested they were very young babies, while one appeared to be a foetus, the Beijing News said.
Authorities said the corpses could have been those of aborted foetuses or babies who died of illness. They were found on the outskirts of the city of Jining.
Abortion is common in China, where at least 13 million births are terminated every year, due in part to the nation's so-called "one-child policy", which limits most urban couples to just one offspring.
The policy is widely blamed for fuelling abortions of female foetuses in China, where male offspring are traditionally favoured.
According to witnesses, some of the infants had tags on their legs detailing their dates of birth and mother's names, but authorities were still unsure which hospital they came from, the report said.
The report did not give any information on the dates of birth detailed on the tags.
One of the bodies had been bundled into a plastic bag marked "hospital waste."
Zhong Haitao, an official at the Jining health department, speculated that the bodies had been dumped into a rubbish bin and some of them fell into the neighbouring river. A full investigation is underway.
The health department was not immediately available for comment when contacted by AFP.