At least 19 passengers including children onboard the Hazarat Nizamuddin ? Ernakulam Duronto Express were admitted to the Government General Hospital here on Monday after complaining of food poisoning.

The non-stop train had to be abruptly stopped at Kozhikode railway station at 11.30 a.m. after activists of the Democratic Youth Federation for India (DYFI), led by its district president P.A. Mohammed Riyaz, blocked its journey further. The passengers who consumed non-vegetarian food for breakfast including bread, butter and omelette developed a stomach bug. The condition of those found to be serious at the time were rushed to the hospital. All of them are fine now, a hospital spokesman said.

Many passengers started vomiting and some developed diarrhea from consuming the stale food served at around at 9 a.m. They were travelling in the second class sleeper coach.

Food for the passengers was served inside the Duronto Express by the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation, a government of India enterprise. Samples of the food have been sent for examination, officials said.

The train had started its journey from Nizamuddin at 9.30 p.m. on Saturday. Passengers said that many, particularly children, had developed similar symptoms from Sunday evening. ?A child in the S4 bogie complained of nausea. Medicines were administered to the child by a co- traveller,? said Biju Joseph, a passenger.

Incidentally, a few passengers alighted at Mangalore station when the train halted. Trouble started as the train left the station when many children complained of sickness and some started vomiting.

G. Vinod, employee of the Department of Ground Water, who was returning after a vacation with his family in New Delhi, said the doctor in the AC compartment initially refused to treat the children. The doctor expressed his helplessness since he had no medicines with him.

Lucky miss

A few passengers who had ordered bread and omelette for breakfast refused to have the omelette after sensing it was stale. ?Fortunately my children threw them off because of the foul smell,? Mr. Vinod said.

Meanwhile the Union Minister for State for Railways E. Ahamed, who visited the patients at the hospital, ordered a high-level inquiry into the incident. A sum for Rs. 15,000 apart from the expenditure for treatment was promised as relief for them.

The train left Kozhikode station at 2.30 p.m. and reached Ernakulam South Junction at 6 p.m. Earlier the district collector, P.B. Salim and M.KRaghavan, MP, held talks with the passengers and railway officials to sort out the issue.

Lack of adequate water

This is not the first time passengers aboard the Duronto Express are having a harrowing experience since the non-stop train began its service on March 7. A little more than a week after the train started its operation, passengers compelled the railway authorities to halt the train at Kozhikode station. They had complained that food and water were not provided to the passenger for more than a day. The much-hyped modern toilets were out of order and without water.

The second class sleeper fare costing Rs. 880 per passenger from Nizamuddin to Ernakulam includes food and water. ?But the authorities distribute just two bottles of water for the whole trip,? Mr. Vinod said.