A 14-year-old Russian girl who died while working long hours as a model in China may have been poisoned, it has been claimed.
Vlada Dzyuba’s sudden death during a modelling tour in Shanghai made international headlines last month.
Her death was initially put down to exhaustion, septicaemia, or meningitis, and reignited the debate about the treatment of models in the fashion industry.
But it has been reported that an autopsy revealed evidence of a “biological poison” in her body.
“The source of the [toxic] substance is not known but it is clear the girl was killed ‘not by a simple infection’,” Russian online forum Mash reported.
It quoted a source who said: “The girl could have been bitten, she could have eaten something, she could have been passed something.”
The findings were reported by Russian State television and regional media, and come after the Russian Investigative Committee (similar to the US’s FBI) opened a criminal case into the girl’s death.
According to the Siberian Times investigators have spoken to the girl’s parents, two Russian modelling agencies, and have been seeking the assistance of the Chinese authorities.
Three modelling agencies linked to Dzyuba have denied responsibility for her death.
When she died there was criticism her Russian boss had not provided her with medical insurance to work in China.
Subsequent reports said on some days she had been earning as little as £6.30 a day after paying for her own air fares, hotels and food.
She had reportedly phoned her mother in the days before her death, saying that she felt exhausted.
On the day she was eventually admitted to hospital, she had taken part in a 13-hour photoshoot and undertaken a 185-mile journey back to Shanghai.