Some 33 people including five children have now died in central Pakistan after eating sweets accidentally tainted with insecticide, officials said Sunday.
The mass poisoning occurred in the Karor Lal Esan area of Punjab province last month.
“The death toll from poisonous sweets has risen to 33 and 13 other victims are still in hospital,” district police chief Muhammad Ali Zia told AFP.
Local resident Umar Hayat bought the baked confectionery on April 17 to distribute among friends and family to celebrate the birth of his grandson.
Police were investigating how the chemicals were introduced into the sweets preparation process, he said.
Police last week said the worker may have inadvertently added pesticide to the sweet mix since there was a pesticide shop close by which was being renovated, and the owner had left his products at the bakery for safe keeping.
The N.Y. Times reports that 21 children died and more than two dozen were hospitalized Tuesday after being poisoned by an insecticide-laced lunch served at a primary school in the eastern state of Bihar.
The children complained that the food — rice, beans and potato curry — tasted odd and soon suffered severe vomiting and diarrhea, officials said. After the children’s complaints, the school’s cook tasted the meal and promptly fell ill as well, according to P. K. Shahi, minister of human resource development in Bihar.
School meal programs in India, like many government programs, are rife with fraud. Corruption has long been endemic in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states.
After seeing the children get sick, the school’s teachers and administrators fled the school, according to Dr. Shambhu Nath Singh, the deputy superintendent of the government hospital in Bihar’s Saran District. Parents brought the sickened children to the hospital. Seven were dead on arrival and seven died soon after getting to the hospital, Dr. Singh said.
The local police opened an investigation into the incident and have been searching for the school’s headmistress, but she has fled, Abhijit Sinha, the district’s chief civil servant, said by telephone.