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Oddly Enough

China scurries to contain mice on U.S. flight

A normal mouse and a genetically-engineered mouse (L) are displayed at Johns Hopkins Univesrity in an undated file photo. The United States, concerned about tainted imports from China, has exported its own batch of potentially harmful goods to Beijing in the form of mice on a flight from Washington, state media said Tuesday. REUTERS/Handout

BEIJING (Reuters) - The United States, concerned about tainted imports from China, has exported its own batch of potentially harmful goods to Beijing in the form of mice on a flight from Washington, state media said Tuesday.

Chinese inspectors found eight mice, dead and alive, on a United Airlines flight to Beijing after the airline reported the stowaways to local quarantine officials upon landing on Sunday afternoon, Xinhua news agency said.

The report prompted an “emergency team” to rush to the aircraft, Xinhua said, to “put rat poison and mouse traps at every possible corner on the aircraft, including the cockpit.”

“Eight mice, dead and (alive), were found at last ... hidden in pillows,” the agency said.

The surviving mice were sent to labs for testing, it said.

The incident was reported in most newspapers Tuesday, citing experts warning of dozens of fatal viruses that the mice could spread, and the risk of deadly accidents from them chewing through the plane’s wiring and circuits.

“We are taking this matter seriously and have begun a full investigation with the authorities to determine how this happened and ensure it is resolved,” United Airlines said in a statement.

“It would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage as the investigation is currently under way.”

China has been rocked by a number of quality scandals involving food, toys and drugs in recent months, but has repeatedly accused foreign media of biased reporting, while making a point of naming foreign companies it claims have substandard product problems.

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