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A 22-year-old student has sued her college in southern China after staff started a rumour that she was having a baby when they mistook her thick winter coat for a pregnancy.

Distraught Lia Xixi was even quizzed by local health officials over her "unauthorised" pregnancy after staff at the Changsha University, Hunan province, reported her.

"No-one would believe me and everyone was gossiping about me. I was crying all the time.

"I didn't even have a boyfriend so how could I be pregnant?," said Xixi, who has since ditched the puffy, down-filled coat.

"Even when I got rid of the coat, people said I had had an abortion," she added.

College staff have now apologised to Xixi after judges ordered them to compensate her for her "mental anguish."

"We now accept that she is not, and never was, pregnant and we apologise for the distress our staff caused her," said a university spokesman.

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