Bihar midday meal tragedy: Insecticide in food or cooking oil, doctor says



 Postmortem reports on 22 children who died this week after eating a school lunch in Bihar confirmed that insecticide was either in the food or cooking oil, a doctor said on Thursday.

Patna Medical College hospital superintendent Amarkant Jha Amar said results of the chemical analysis of the ingredients seized from the school were still pending.

The free midday meal was served to the children on Tuesday in Gandamal village in Masrakh block, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Patna,the Bihar state capital. The children, aged 5-12, got sick soon after eating rice, lentils, soya and potatoes, and soon 22 of them were dead and dozens were hospitalized.

The 25 children and the school cook still being treated in the hospital are unlikely to suffer from any serious aftereffects from the tainted food, Amar said, though four of the children were still in the intensive care unit.

"There will be no remnant effects on them. The effects of poisoning will be washed after a certain period of time from the tissues," Amar said.

The Bihar state education minister, PK Sahi, said on Wednesday that a preliminary investigation suggested that the food served to the children contained an organophosphate used as an insecticide on rice and wheat crops.

Amar said on Thursday that the postmortem reports on the children who died confirmed that insecticide was either in the food or cooking oil. He said authorities were waiting for lab results for more details on the chemicals.

Local villagers, however, have said the problem appeared to be with a side dish of soya and potatoes, not rice. Children who did not eat the side dish were fine, even though they had eaten the rice and lentils, several villagers said on Wednesday.


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