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Seven drugged people out of danger
By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-06 02:07

Seven people were allegedly drugged by an unnamed man from South Korea in a Beijing hotel on Wednesday are now out of danger.

The six women and one man, aged between 25 and 45, from Northeast China's Jilin Province, became ill in the Huiqiao Hotel, in Chaoyang District.

Police said they had been persuaded by the man to take some unidentified drug, which sent them into coma.

Eleven ethnic Koreans reportedly came to Beijing from Yanji of Jilin because the suspect had promised to help eight of them get jobs with the South Korean company Samsung Electronics.

The victims had planned to fly to South Korea Thursday.

The eight had reached an agreement with the South Korean that each of them would give him 75,000 yuan (US$9,000), Zheng Meihua, one of the group, was quoted by Beijing Times as saying.

At noon on Wednesday, they had lunch with the South Korean who persuaded them to take some oral liquid drug, which, he said, would help prevent them catching a fever on their journey.

If they became feverish, they might be refused by customs officials as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) suspects, the South Korean man said.

After taking the drugs, most of them felt bad and became comatose. One felt better and seized the South Korean with another man who came in from outside.

Policemen soon arrived and began to investigate the case.

All the victims in the case and the South Korean -- who was injured in melee with the others -- were sent to the China-Japan Friendship Hospital near the hotel.

After an investigation, police said robbery is suspected to be behind the poisoning.

And experts are examining the drug to see what actually it was and what effects it would have on the victims.

The unknown chemical was a challenge for doctors since the patients were in a deep coma during the care.

"We didn't know what happened, what they took and what diseases they had before. All we could do was to treat them according to the symptoms and our experience," Gao Mingpeng, assistant president of the hospital, told China Daily Thursday.

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