The posting of signs barring "persons and livestock" from dumpsters in a Chinese city, where five homeless youths died in one of them, has sparked so much indignation that the local government had to publicly apologize.

Citizens have massively complained about the signs, slammed by many as an "insult," weeks after the government of the central city of Bijie was criticized for allowing five youngsters to die of the cold in a dumpster, the official Xinhua news agency said.

"Entry of persons and livestock prohibited," said signs on at least a dozen dumpsters, including the one used as a shelter by the ill-fated children in mid-November.

The criticism spurred the top official in the district where the decision was taken, Gao Dan, to express on his personal blog his most "sincere apologies" and say that "the warnings are inappropriate and have hurt people's feelings."

Five youths ranging in age from 9 to 13 were found dead on Nov. 16, apparently of carbon monoxide poisoning, after they burned coal to try and fend off the cold inside the dumpster.

The tragedy set off a widespread debate in China about the little attention given to the more than 150,000 youngsters said to be living on the streets. EFE