Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif constituted a committee on Friday to probe the recent deaths by poisoned sweetmeats after one more person died, taking the death toll to 30.
Bashir Ahmed, 45, a resident of Layyah, died at Jinnah Hospital a week after consuming the sweetmeats.
The committee formed by the chief minister includes Chief Minister’s Inspection Team Chairman Muhammd Irfan, the Dera Ghazi Khan DCO, Professor of Medicine Muhammad Irshad Qureshi, Surgeon Waseem Haider, Transit Lab Chairman Muhammad Anjum and Agriculture Department Director General Anjum Ali. The committee has been told to submit its report to the chief minister in 72 hours.
Meanwhile, the Punjab Forensic Science Agency issued a report in this regard.
Talking to newsmen, Layyah DCO Rana Gulzar Ahmad said the report said the deaths had been caused by the presence of a toxic chemical, chlorfenapyr, which was used as a pesticide. He said tests had found traces of chlorofenapyr in the syrup and the sugar.
The DCO said the suggestion earlier reported in local press that the deaths had been caused by sulfonyl was false.
He said the shop owners were two brothers, Tariq and Khalid. He said they prepared sweets at their factory with the help an employee, Hamid. He said Tariq also owned four acres of agricultural land and had stored insecticides at his shop.
The DCO said sweetmeats had been contaminated by accident.
He said police had registered a case against Tariq, Khalid and Hamid. “All three men are in police custody,” he said. He said police had also sealed the factory where the sweets were being produced. The contamination was first reported on April 21 when 13 members of a family died after consuming the sweets. Sajjad, a resident of Chak 105-TD, had distributed the sweets at the birth of his son.
Those who fell ill were taken to Layyah District Headquarters Hospital and later moved to Nishtar Hospital in Multan and Jinnah Hospital in Lahore.
Punjab Food Authority Operations Director Ayesha Mumtaz and Minister for Food Bilal Yaseen reached Layyah to investigate the cause of deaths.
Executive District Officer Ameer Abdullah and Dera Ghazi Khan Health Director Shahid Iqbal had accompanied them.
DCO Gulzar Ahmad visited the DHQ hospital on Friday to inquire after the health of six family members who were admitted there.
The DCO was told that they had suffered food poisoning after consuming a drink. He was told that no traces of poison were found in the drink.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 30th, 2016.