‘Tainted’ food at school hostel leaves one dead, six hospitalised

The students were in a serious condition and complained of having cramps.


Our Correspondent August 13, 2012

HYDERABAD: An eight-year-old student lodged at an Umerkot missionary school died on Saturday while six more were shifted to hospital in a serious condition allegedly after eating food served at the school’s hostel.

Rebecca Masih was taking her last breaths when she was brought to the hospital, Dr Allahdad Rathod told The Express Tribune.

The other boarders were identified as Naresh Kumar, Nazia, Shama, Meena Bai, Abdul Sattar and Aasia. “They had probably eaten contaminated food, but their diagnostic tests have to be done,” he added.

The patients were treated according to their physical symptoms as the epidemiologist would visit the hospital on Monday morning.

The patients were complaining of cramps and two of them were unconscious when brought to the hospital, said the doctors at the Malir Medical Hospital, Umerkot. Other symptoms of their illness included vomiting and diarrhoea.

While two patients were discharged on Sunday morning, two of the four still hospitalised were stated to be in a critical condition. They have been kept on intravenous therapy as the doctors plan to carry out their faecal occult blood test (stool test) on Monday.

The boarders were identified as Rebecca Masih, Naresh Kumar, Nazia, Shama, Meena Bai, Abdul Sattar and Aasia.

The school administration, which is footing the bill at the private hospital, refused to explain how the students got ill. They said they will not give any statement to the press until they are “allowed by their authorities”. The parents of the sick students were also reluctant to talk to the reporters.

Umerkot SHO Sufi Aurangzeb said the police cannot get involved in the case until a complaint is registered against the school. The district education officer, Ghulam Mustafa Soomro, could not be contacted as his cell phone was switched off.

The missionary school belongs to an international organisation which runs a chain of schools. It has been housed in a building on Chorr Road for the past 4 years, but is expected to shift to its own building soon.

The school was said to have enrolled around 200 students, mainly Hindus and Christians, from the four districts of the Mirpurkhas division. It provides free education, boarding facilities, meals, books and even clothes to the students.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.

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