Two Beijing lawyers are demanding police reveal what they know about the death of five runaway boys whose bodies were found Friday in a large garbage container in the city of Bijie, Guizhou Province.
Li Fangping from Beijing Ruifeng Law Firm and Feng Ding from Jiangsu Zhiren Law Firm have written to police asking them to explain how they missed finding the boys who had been reported missing 11 days before the tragedy.
The boys had apparently run away from home after dropping out of school. The lawyers have also asked the education bureau to explain what attempts were made to track down the boys after they went missing.
"It is very important to know the details of their investigation to figure out what went wrong so we can prevent such tragedies from happening in the future," Li told the Global Times. "We are expecting to hear from the authorities in 15 days."
The five boys, between the ages of nine and 13, were siblings and cousins, police said, adding their parents are migrant workers living in other cities.
The boys made a fire to warm themselves inside the garbage container and were found to have died of carbon monoxide poisoning.
"This unfortunate event is in fact an accident," Tang Guangxing, spokesperson of the Bijie government, told the Global Times.
Tang said he did not know how many other runaway children may be eking out an existence in the city or what the student drop-out rate was in the area. The Beijing lawyers also want answers to those questions.
"The government is very reluctant to provide information to the public," said Li.
The shocking tragedy has drawn increasing attention as more information about the boys is posted online.
Li Yunlong, a former journalist from Bijie who first exposed the tragedy on the Internet, posted Tuesday a photo of the children taken by a passerby the day before the tragedy.
The boys are seen in the photos sitting on the stairs of an underground passage, apparently begging for food.
Li was also reluctant to discuss the case when reached by the Global Times on Wednesday.
Beijing News also reported on Wednesday that nearby residents had spotted the children but did not call authorities to help them.
"We need to ask why we failed to rescue these children after so many people had the chance to do so," Li said.