A group of Russians picking mushrooms discovered 248 human foetuses in four open plastic barrels in a forest ravine.
Medical experts and investigators are now trying to figure out who dumped the bodies, aged between 12 and 16 weeks, in the isolated ditch in the Ural Mountains.
Police described the discovery as "worthy of a horror movie", the Moscow Times reports.
Attached to the palm-sized foetuses were tags listing surnames and numbers.
They had been preserved in formaldehyde but many of the foetuses had spilled out of the barrels when they were apparently thrown into the ditch.
Police believe some of the foetuses are up to 10 years old and come from at least four different hospitals.
It's hard to imagine what the Russian fisherman was thinking when he stumbled on some strange plastic barrels in the middle of the forest in the Ural Mountains recently. Inside the barrels? Human fetuses, 248 of them all tagged with family names.
It almost sounds too sick and twisted to be true, but sadly, that is exactly what happened. The poor man went to the woods to get some firewood, and instead he found hundreds of fetuses. And now for the part of this horror story that will make you forever fear going to a hospital.
Investigators say they think these fetuses actually came FROM medical facilities. No doubt with the help of those family names, the fetuses have been tied to hospitals in Yekaterinburg. And they're putting the blame on a bio-medical waste company for falling down on the job.
Now let's just think about this for a moment, people. You go into the hospital, and you're at their mercy. We all just take it on blind faith that whatever happens after we leave, they'll treat whatever came out of us with the utmost respect.
Hospitals and bio-medical waste companies have to be held to a higher standard precisely because of what they deal with: humans.
We aren't talking someone's old refrigerator that wasn't dumped on the roadside instead of being taken to the proper landfill. Heck, we aren't talking just any medical "waste." This isn't a used syringe. These were human fetuses. Nearly 250 of them!
If they could screw up something his important that badly, it makes me wonder what else is being screwed up. And heads had better roll.
What do you think should happen to the people at this company? Are you uneasy about medical "waste" and what happens to it?
The grisly remains were discovered on Monday about three miles from a road leading north from Yekaterinburg, the capital of Sverdlovsk region, to the town of Nyevyansk.
It was unclear where the foetuses, some of them six inches long, had come from. A local prosecutor said they were biological material left over after abortions and appeared to originate from at least four different hospitals and clinics. However, other reports suggested they were the result of stillbirths and miscarriages. Police said they were investigating tags attached to some of the foetuses which had reference numbers and surnames on them.
Investigators are trying to establish how long the four 50-litre plastic barrels had lain in the forest. The foetuses had been kept in formaldehyde but because the lids had come off the containers some of them had spilt out and were mummified.
Vladimir Vlasov, deputy head of the regional government, said it appeared that a company responsible for disposing of the remains had dumped the barrels. "All those who are guilty of this will be punished," he added, saying that could include a criminal prosecution.
Russian doctors and public health experts have warned in the past that there is a large illegal trade in the former Soviet Union for human embryos and foetuses which are used in untested beauty treatments.