A fishing trip turned grisly last week when unsuspecting villagers in Russia's south Urals region found four barrels containing 248 human fetuses.
Now, less than a week after the grim discovery, officials have reportedly pinpointed the culprits, and it seems that the gruesome fetus dump may not have been an isolated incident.
According to Russian news agency RT, a waste disposal company and a medical academy based out of the city of Ekaterinburg may be tied to the fetus-dumping case.
Investigators have allegedly learned that Spetsavtobaza, a waste disposal company run by city administration, and its client, the Urals Medical Academy, have been routinely dumping "human waste," including human fetuses, in unauthorized locations.
An employee of the academy allegedly told investigators that 14 barrels containing human fetuses had been dumped in May.
Four of the 50-liter canisters were found last week by a group of villagers.
“A friend of mine called at night and said he went fishing and wanted to get some wood for his fire. He found some abandoned water canisters and wanted to take them for his house. And when he came up, he saw… little baby bodies,” a local said, according to Reuters.
The fetuses, preserved in formaldehyde and aged between 22-26 weeks, were kept in barrels with tags marked with last names and numbers, the Associated Press reports. Some of the fetuses were almost a decade old.
The remaining ten barrels have yet to be found.
It is unclear as to whether the waste disposal company and the medical academy will be charged.
In Russia, embryos and fetuses are supposed to be disposed of immediately by incineration, as they are classified as highly hazardous waste, RT explains.
Correction: This article has been amended to reflect the correct age of the fetuses found. According to initial reports, it was thought that the fetuses were aged between 12-16 weeks. However, according to RT, forensic examinations have since showed that most of the fetuses were terminated at 22-26 weeks of pregnancy.