Chinese Arrest 22 Over Milk Scandal

Chinese police have arrested 22 people suspected of producing melamine - the chemical found in milk products which have made thousands of babies ill.

The arrests took place on 17 September, but were only reported widely on Monday evening.

Police are said to have raided dairy farms and milk purchasing stations in northern Hebei province, and seized more than 220kg (485lb) of melamine.

Chinese milk products have been recalled from all around the world.

As well as making about 50,000 babies ill, the tainted milk products have also been blamed for the deaths of four babies.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua said that of the 22 people detained, 19 were managers of 17 pastures, breeding farms and milk purchasing stations.

More than 800 police were involved in the raids on 41 locations in Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei, Xinhua said.

Police said the melamine had been produced in underground plants and then sold to breeding farms and purchasing stations.

Xinhua quoted one of those arrested as saying he had been producing "protein powder" containing melamine since last year.

Another suspect was quoted as saying his milk had always been rejected by Sanlu, the company where the toxic milk was first discovered last month which is headquartered in Shijiazhuang.

He said he was told that lacing his milk with melamine could increase the proportion of protein and would help his milk pass the Sanlu test. So he began tainting the milk, Xinhua reported.