A 14-year-old model who collapsed and died moments before she was due on the catwalk was suffering from “utter exhaustion”, doctors have said.
Vlada Dzyuba, from Russia, was on a three-month assignment in China after being recruited by an agency.
According to reports she was on a “slave labour” contract without medical insurance.
Her mother said Vlada had told her she was constantly tired but was too afraid to go to hospital.
She had been taking part in a gruelling 13-hour Asian fashion show in Shanghai when she collapsed and fell into a coma.
She never regained consciousness, dying two days later, say reports.
A preliminary post-mortem exam concluded the cause of death was meningitis made worse by “utter exhaustion”.
The tragic case has raised concerns over the punishing conditions for young models desperate to make it to the big time, and the way they can be harshly exploited.
A rising flow of young Russian models are recruited to China.
Moscow is to demand explanations over the conditions in which the Vlada was kept in Shanghai after she was recruited on a contract which involved her missing school in her home city Perm, in the Urals.
She had been prominent at this month’s prestigious Shanghai Fashion Week.
The girl’s temperature soared as she was about the go on the catwalk, it has emerged.
“Minutes later she collapsed and was unconscious,” reported The Siberian Times.
“An ambulance was called but she died on Friday after two days in a coma.
“The preliminary cause of death is meningitis compounded by severe exhaustion.”
Her distraught mother Oksana wept: “She was calling me, saying ‘Mama, I am so tired. I so much want to sleep‘.
“It must have been the very beginning of the illness…
“And then her temperature shot up.
“I didn’t sleep myself and was calling her constantly, begging her to go to hospital.”
The mother – who also has a young baby – sought a visa to be with her daughter but could not get it before her child died.
The head of the Perm modelling agency behind her trip, Elvira Zaitseva, said: “No-one expected it to lead to such consequences.
“We are now reaping what we have sown.”
She admitted not personally checking the girl’s contract and medical insurance.
Vlada’s Russian manager Dmitry Smirnov, who negotiated her Chinese assignment, has not commented on her death.
The Kremlin’s human rights ombudsman in Perm, Pavel Mikov, said he was personally investigating the girl’s death.