RAWALPINDI: A teenage boy died and over 80 guests at a wedding function fell ill as a direct result of food poisoning after consuming food at a wedding ceremony in Kallar Syedan near Rawalpindi, health and police officials said on Saturday.
According to information available with The Express Tribune, the marriage ceremony of Sajjad – son of Ilyas – was held in Looni Jandran village of Kallar Syedan. The valima function, the final public event of a the wedding ceremony, was held on Friday.
The guests were served meals consisting of beef, chicken and rice.
After the guests returned to their homes on Friday evening, their condition started deteriorating. Families rushed the affected to the Tehsil Headquarters (THQ) Hospital in Kallar Syedan.
Farid, a 14-year-old boy who had been staying at his grandparent’s house and had eaten at the valima, also fell ill. When his condition deteriorated, his family rushed him to the THQ, however, he died before reaching the hospital.
After the hospital saw a rush of patients, a state of emergency was declared in the hospital and leaves of all doctors and paramedical staff were cancelled.
Dr Humayun Anwar, the Medical Superintendent (MS) of the hospital, said that they had received as many as 81 patients including 52 women, 29 men and children all suffering from food poisoning.
He confirmed that at least one child, Farid, had died.
Dr Anwar said that a large number patients had suddenly started pouring into the hospital from Friday evening with similar complaints. Such was the in-flow of patients that the hospital ran out of beds for the sick and the administration had to bring in at least 10 charpoys from the nearby market to use as beds to accommodate the patients.
“We have collected samples of water drunk by the guests for medical examination,” the MS said adding that doctors at the hospital had taken samples from the stomachs of sick guests and dispatched them to the forensic laboratory in Lahore for examination.
Moreover, he said that the District Health Officer and his team had visited the village and took samples of the food which had been served to check whether it was laced with poison or not.
A police officer involved in the investigation of the event did not rule out the possibility of poison being used.
“The food served in the valima ceremony had been cooked by a cook at a catering service owned by the groom’s uncle,” the police officer said, adding that it was possible that someone had intentionally poisoned the food.
The officer added that police were waiting for results of the laboratory tests.
Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Rawalpindi Talat Mehmood Gondal visited THQ Hospital Kallar Syedan and inquired about the health of patients. He directed the MS to provide quality treatment to the patients.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2017.