The whereabouts of the former Chinese journalist who exposed the case of five children found dead in a dumpster remains unknown after local authorities forced him to take an airplane to a destination that has not been revealed, the South China Morning Post said Friday.

Li Yuanlong, who published the case on the Internet that was taken up by the international press, was sent "on vacation," according to authorities in Bijie, the town where the incident occurred.

"My father told me he received several phone calls before he was taken away from home," the missing man's son, Li Muzi, said from the United States, where he is studying.

"Apparently they are trying to prevent him from helping other reporters follow up on the incident," the younger Li said.

Li Yuanlong, ex-journalist of the Bijie Daily, posted on the Internet the circumstances that led the five children to die a week ago after seeking shelter from the cold in a dumpster.

The five boys, ranging in age from 9 to 13, were found dead last Friday from carbon monoxide poisoning. They had apparently started a fire in an attempt to keep warm.

The boys were the sons of three brothers.

Two of the fathers left Bijie to look for jobs in the coastal city of Shenzhen and left their children in the care of grandparents and distant relatives.

The minors' deaths led the government to sanction eight officials.

But the social upheaval spurred the people to demand the dismissal of the head of the Communist Party in Bijie, Zhang Jiyong.

Official figures indicate that China has more than 150,000 "street kids." EFE