Containers that were described as metal for recycling are to be sent back to the UK from Sri Lanka after customs officials discovered clinical waste in them.
The horrific contents were discovered after customs officials complained about the stench coming from 111 containers that had been abandoned by the importer.
A total of 241 containers had been imported since 2017 with 130 of them taken to a free trade zone designed for recycling and re-export.
Sri Lanka Customs spokesperson Sunil Jayaratne told AFP: “We are taking immediate action to order the re-export of the 111 containers abandoned at the port.
“The other 130, which had already been cleared from port, will be dealt under environmental and other laws.”
These 130 containers were stuffed with used mattresses, plastic and clinical waste.
Sri Lanka finance minister Mangala Samaraweera has ordered the Customs Department to conduct an investigation into the imports.
In a statement, he said: “If any country is importing waste material, it can only be done so with permission from environmental protection agencies, which in Sri Lanka is the Central Environmental Agency.
“Therefore the Finance Minister has instructed Customs to conduct an investigation and submit a report on the waste containers imported to Sri Lanka. The Finance Minister is prepared to take the toughest legal action against those responsible.”