BEIJING - Two young sisters were found dead in a bloody washing machine at a house in eastern China at the weekend, a newspaper reported Tuesday.
Local police in Jiangxi province have ruled out murder in the case, the Global Times newspaper said, citing the official Xinhua news agency. Police confirmed that the girls died of suffocation, the Global Times report said.
However, other domestic reports said police have not excluded the possibility of foul play.
The newspaper said that the girls -- who died on Saturday -- were aged four and two, while other reports said three and two.
"The father found the girls curled up in the closed washing machine with a lot of blood when he saw the light on the washing machine was flickering," the children's grandfather was quoted by a Jiangxi-based online news portal as saying, according to the paper.
A witness quoted by the portal who was said to have helped take the children to hospital described the heart-breaking scene.
"The girls were swollen and had bruises all over the body," the witness said. "There was a lot of blood in the washing machine."
The children's mother fainted when she heard about the deaths, the witness added.
In ruling out murder, police partly cited good relations within the family and no signs suggesting homicide, the Global Times said, citing Xinhua.
Police were unavailable for comment when contacted by AFP.
Online video reports showed an upright washing machine with a small chair placed next to it in the kitchen of the girls' home.
Many people on China's hugely popular microblogging websites raised suspicions about the deaths.
"The chair was very high. How could the babies get on it? It could be an intentional murder, who believes it's not?" said one netizen on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter.
China's Haier Group, the machine's manufacturer, said that the machine would not operate under the conditions that were reported, the newspaper said.
Haier had sent staff to help with the probe, the Global Times added.